Sometimes you just need to step away from the world, to get away from all the negative news. When you feel like that, the Yorkshire Dales are the place to be.
I've lived and spent time in many different places and countries but don't think I've ever been anywhere where people seem so content. When I moved back to Yorkshire after living in London, the first thing people asked when I met them and said we'd moved was 'are you happy?'. In London it was always 'what do you do for a living?', as if people were deciding whether it was worth getting to know us.
Why are people so happy in the Yorkshire Dales?
The weather sometimes throws us a few 'challenges' and the area isn't as financially wealthy as some. But I think we feel rich in other ways, ones that are maybe more important. Childhoods are rich in time spent outdoors, carefree times running barefoot in grassy fields, taking part in community activities.
The sense of community counts for a great deal. People want to help each other, whether it's Young Farmers coming from all over to help re-build drystone walls in Reeth, neighbours looking out for each other or practical help after something has happened. Nature is a wonderful thing, but it certainly can't be controlled and sometimes it surprises us. That's often when you see Dales folk at their strongest, rallying round to help and make the best of whatever's happened. My house sometimes floods and yet it's not a particularly negative experience thanks to the kindness we've received.
Even in hard times, there's a dry humour that comes to the fore. Go to one of our country shows and you'll see small gatherings of farmers, leaning on their sticks, gazing at their livestock, commiserating with each other about the appalling stock prices but still managing to rib each other and have a good laugh at the same time. It's a matter of fact sort of humour, got-to-laugh-there's-nothing-else-you-can-do sort of humour but it counts for a lot.
Being among positive people can be a real balm for the soul. When I lived in London I got used to people not bothering to acknowledge me when I chirpily greeted then in the street. OK, so they were strangers and thought I was a bit bonkers, but that's what I was brought up to do. Combine that with seeing negative headlines on the newsstands, rude staff in many shops, and after a while of city living you naturally feel a bit down.
Living in the Yorkshire Dales, a five minute walk is a hugely positive experience. I notice the green growth in the fields, have some interesting conversations with complete strangers, enjoy the fresh air and feel upbeat. When I go into shops the owner or their family are often the ones who work there. It's their business so they care, and it really feels that way. Without asking, they make small kind gestures.
Developing a sense of resilience and self-reliance is important for all human beings, and I think that's part of what makes people in the Yorkshire Dales so content. We might not have chosen to be self-reliant and to have to sometimes deal with adversity but we've done it, and we know we can do it. That instils a kind of quiet confidence. It's assumed that problems will be solved.
Some one notices the village hall roof is leaking, and they mention it to a few people. One of them quietly gets on with temporarily fixing it. Some others get together to decide what kind of community fundraising event to run. The event happens and is well-supported by locals (and hopefully visitors...) who feel good about making their contribution, whether it's a prize for the tombola or baking a cake. The event is enjoyable as well as worthwhile, giving the community a chance to come together and have fun. The roof is permanently fixed, smiles all round and so it goes on. It's not always easy, but problem-solving can be good for the soul and it makes people happy.
Another reason for feeling content is simply living among such beauty. It's so much easier to feel happy when you look out at an uplifiting view every day. Green is such a soothing colour and it really is greener here.
There's much joy to be gained from small things, from mud-larking to wild-swimming, or other simple ways to enjoy nature.
Of course having a high pub to people ratio might also be a contributing factor to why people feel so happy in the Yorkshire Dales...
In fact there are so many reasons why we feel happy to live in the Yorkshire Dales, we've written a short free book that you can download free and enjoy right now.