Canadians say they don’t need extravagance to be happy. So what inspires them? It’s the simple things in life, like spending time with family and friends, experiencing the majesty of Canada’s landscape and participating in charitable acts. These are among the top activities that bring Canadians happiness, according to a new survey from Coca-Cola, aptly named the Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor. The survey is the most comprehensive online study on happiness in Canada.
The Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor, conducted in celebration of Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary, canvassed 5,000 Canadians 16 years and older. Respondents were asked about all things “happiness” including social networks, active living, work and the influence of Canadian icons and landscapes in their lives. Results showed more than half of Canadians believe they are happier than the average person. The number-one contributing factor to personal happiness is family or a significant other at 71 per cent.
“For 125 years Coca-Cola has championed the values of optimism, positivity and happiness,” said Nicola Kettlitz, President, Coca-Cola Ltd. “The Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor will help us inspire and encourage more of those happy moments that allow us to pause, refresh and experience life’s simple pleasures.”
Throughout the year, Coca-Cola will release additional results of the Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor. Further insights will include those moments, locations and times Canadians are happiest, as well as the happiest occupations in Canada, stress levels, ambitions and views on money.
Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor Highlights
Go Canada Go! Canada’s gold medal win in men’s hockey at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games was the happiest national sporting event for almost half of the country (47 per cent). The 1972 Canada vs. USSR series was a distant second at 17 per cent. (Why wasn’t the Women’s gold medal win included in this? I feel it’s just as important for national morale as the men’s gold medal win.)
Natural wonders….Drawn to the vast landscape of astonishing natural and rugged beauty, close to one third of Canadians (32 per cent) say that the Rockies in Banff, Alberta, make them the happiest.
- The runners up? The dance of the Northern Lights, which light up 26 per cent of the population, and Niagara Falls, a popular tourist destination and source of natural happiness for 15 per cent of the country.
- The rugged Rocky Mountains are a popular source of scenic happiness amongst men and older citizens, while women and younger Canadians were more likely to cite the Northern Lights.
- Third-generation Canadians, also partial to the Northern Lights, were less likely to choose the thundering waters of Niagara Falls as the natural phenomenon that makes them the happiest.
- The Falls scored big points with Canadian parents, who cited this natural wonder most often.
Happiness is a helping hand. Whether by giving time or money, nearly half of Canadians (49 per cent) say that they feel happy when they support charitable causes, with 14 per cent saying it makes them extremely happy.
- In the spirit of giving, almost six in ten Canadians (59 per cent) currently volunteer with charities or give their time/money to show their support.
- Canada’s top causes include providing more food & nutrition opportunities to disadvantaged children (29 per cent), helping and protecting animals (20 per cent) and protecting the environment (17 per cent).
- Volunteering occurs most often amongst first-generation Canadians, females, and citizens who are older than 25. Self-described as “equally happy as” or “happier than” the average person, these Canadians, who are currently helping others, gave themselves a high score both now and five years down the road.
Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor Methodology
Conducted by Leger Marketing, the survey was completed on-line between January 20 and January 31, 2011, using Leger Marketing’s online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample of 5,025 Canadian residents, 16 years or older. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±1.4%, 19 times out of 20.
Additional Survey Highlights
How happy are Canadians?
Canadians were asked to rank their current “life right now” on a ten-step ladder, with the top rung representing the “best possible life” and the bottom rung representing the “worst possible life”. On average Canadians scored their “life right now” a 6.7 out of 10. When asked to imagine life five years from now, this number jumped to a score of 7.5 out of 10.
Those most likely to put themselves on steps eight, nine and 10 include residents of Quebec, Canadians over 65, married couples, university graduates and those who consider their health to be good or average.
In fact, those more likely to consider themselves happier than the average person are boomers over 65, first-generation Canadians and those earning more than $35,000 a year. However, looking ahead five years, young Canadians are most likely to put themselves on steps eight, nine and 10, suggesting that youthful optimism or a tendency to expect the best (or at least a favourable outcome) is alive and well in our next generation of leaders.
What makes Canadians happy?
It is moments and scenes far away from the “hustle and bustle” of daily social and professional lives that heighten feelings of happiness among Canadians. The top three “happy places” include a camp fire at the cottage or cabin, hanging out at home and reading a book, while lakes, oceans and mountains rank among our favourite scenery.
Family and friends are also key contributors to Canadians’ happiness with nearly all respondents citing family dinners as an activity that brings them happiness. When it comes to friends, slightly less than half of the population say their network consists of less than 10 friends. Interestingly, those who say they are happier than the average person are more likely to have more friends in their network and as a network of friends decreases, so too does an individual’s score on the “best possible life right now ladder.”
Who is the happiest?
What makes Canadians happy varies from coast to coast, as well as between genders, generations and geographic locations. Their own provinces aside, Canadians generally believe that British Columbia is the happiest province. Comparatively, Quebec residents are one of the happiest groups in the country when measured against the national average.