Earlier this week the first annual well-being report from the Office for National Statistics shows that people in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are among the happiest in the UK, which made my smile even bigger than it was before! In fact the report seems to suggest that there is a correlation between rurality and happiness. Put this next to the news last week that researchers from Exeter University have discovered a correlation between health and proximity to the sea and it seems that rural living is distinctly good for health and happiness!
Now, there have been some other interesting reports lately, one which shows that Orkney has some of the lowest unemployment in the country, and one which shows that wages in Orkney are also some of the lowest in the country. We already know that being in work is linked to better health and happiness, but in the case of Orkney could work and happiness be related irrespective of pay levels?
I don’t know, but I know that personally I have found working in small communities very rewarding – either paid or unpaid. Being in a small place I have found that there are a surprising number of opportunities to get involved in things, to be proactive, to try things out, to take responsibility, and, crucially, to see the impact of your efforts in the community in which you live. Many of the most rewarding activities I have been involved in have been those where I have been paid nothing, or a token amount. But the personal reward of having customers and clients stop me in the street to tell me how I have helped them, is much greater than financial reward for me.