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The Factors Making People Happiest; Only 40% Of Our Happiness Is Under Our Control


According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, the UK climbed four points to be in the top 20 at number 15th, alongside Germany (17th), Australia (11th), Sweden (7th) and Finland (1st), despite the report stating that global happiness is on the decline.

Looking into the happiness around the UK, research collated by  Forest Holidays reveals the factors and characteristics of what makes a place the happiest, and what people can do to better their mental health ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month.

What Makes Us Happy?

In recent years the science of being happy has been a focal point with more reports being produced annually. Studies show that approximately 40% of our happiness is under our control, while external factors determine the 60%.

There are numerous factors that can influence a person’s happiness:

  • Life satisfaction: 90% of people are highly satisfied with their lives right now.
  • Good work-life balance: Almost half of Brits feel they have a good work-life balance, even with only 45% being happy about the amount of leisure time they have.
  • Time spent outdoors: The majority of people also regularly spend time outdoors, ensuring they spend time in nature regularly.

Regular exercise: Almost 62% of people spending at least 150 minutes a week doing physical activity. Studies show that just 20 minutes of exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours while exercising outside has a more significant impact with results including people feeling less tense/angry and more engaged and energised.

Factors Making A Place “Happy”

In the UK, around 69% of people say they feel happy in their neighbourhood, while safety, access to key services, earnings and access to green spaces such as parks and forests are all considered significant attributors.

Those living in Winchester, in the South East, report an elevated sense of overall wellbeing. From the area’s medieval streets to its proximity to sprawling natural landscapes like Blackwood Forest, the area tops the list as the happiest place to live in England.

While in Scotland, East Renfrewshire boasts high levels of happiness thanks to low crime levels, high earnings and the fact the area is also surrounded by natural beauty, with several parks and scenic routes to explore.

Happiest Places in the UK



  1. Winchester
  1. East Renfrewshire
  1. Babergh
  1. East Dunbartonshire
  1. Rushcliffe
  1. Aberdeenshire
  1. Chiltern
  1. Stirling
  1. Ribble Valley
  1. Scottish Borders
  1. Waverley
  1. Midlothian
  1. Forest Heath
  1. East Lothian
  1. Surrey Heath
  1. Highland
  1. Elmbridge
  1. South Ayrshire
  1. Epsom and Ewell
  1. Shetland Islands


5 Simple Ways to Better Happiness and Mental Health

Mental health can be affected by many different factors, but there are a few simple things that can help improve both mental wellbeing and happiness levels:

  1. Improve Your Work-Life Balance: Research from Instant Offices most a quarter of workers admit to feeling burned out at work all the time, with a lack of work-life balance being one of the key factors contributing to this. Leaving work on time, avoiding checking emails after hours and on weekends, and by taking time out on weekends to spend with loved ones are just a few ways to ensure your work and personal life are kept separate.
  2. Take Time Out: Whether opting for a digital detox, or a weekend trip, taking some time out for yourself, or spending quality time with family, is a positive routine change that will help to increase overall happiness and help reduce stress.
  3. Spend More Time Outdoors: Spending time in green spaces can have a positive impact on mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, while studies have shown “forest bathing” can measurably reduce levels of stress and improve your mood.
  4. Do Not Disregard Your Mental Health: Almost a third of all people signed off from work are taking time out due to mental health, while studies suggest that millennials are one of the most anxious generations.
  5. Get a Good Night’s Sleep: A simple yet effective method that has an impact on overall happiness. Those who have a good quality sleep most nights report a higher sense of wellbeing compared to those who don’t.

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