Happiness… it’s what life is all about isn’t it? When we really get down to the nitty gritty and ask ourselves what we are doing all this for, it’s basically for that feeling of contentment and wellbeing, not only for us but the people around us too. I’m particularly interested in how our homes affect our feeling of happiness, what makes a house a home and then a home a happy one.
I’ve always been really sensitive to spaces, ever since I was small I quickly decided if a room had a happy vibe or not. But this is no sixth sense, it’s something we can all tap into. Over my 20 year career, I’ve been constantly shaping and honing what it is that makes a room feel great to be in, the way colour affects our mood, the right layout that makes us feel at ease and the objects, pictures and paintings that can take us to our happy place. But in this image-rich digital age, I think it’s all too easy to get disconnected from how a room makes you feel and dive right on in with how it looks. But that’s just the surface. You need to dig a little deeper to unlock the happiness – as we all know, beauty is only skin deep.
So when I was sent The GoodHome Report, a body of research commissioned by GoodHome by B&Q and carried out by the Happiness Research Institute, I literally jumped on it! Right now, with everything else that’s going on in life and politics, this is what we need more of! And what an incredible piece of stat it is too. Some 13,489 people, all across Europe, were canvassed about how they felt about their homes. People from different cultures, young and old, from different social economic backgrounds, renters and homeowners as well as passionate renovators, to people who want to turn the key on a new build, were all asked the same questions about how they feel about the spaces they live in and guess what, we all have more in common than you think! First up, the way we feel about our homes is integral to our happiness.
“Our home is holding who we are. Where we can truly be ourselves. It’s meant to be a place of restoration. We can completely let go and be our true selves.”
Lindsay Graham, psychologist and research specialist.
One of the key messages that shone out for me was how big a role our homes play in our happiness. If you are happy with your home you are almost certainly happy in life. Our homes are more important to our overall happiness than our incomes or job, three times more important than what we earn and five times more important than our job, our relationship and whether we have kids or not. Are you surprised by this? I was initially and then it totally made sense. Our home is the bedrock that launches us into each and every new day but its also a place to retreat to. But sadly 25% of people canvassed were not happy with the state of their homes.
Lots of emotions are wrapped up in how we feel about our homes but the big five are pride, identity, comfort, safety and control. (I love the last one, I rarely feel in control in my own home!)
A feeling of space and connection to outside space ranked high in the polls and interestingly 20% of us say that our homes don’t feel spacious, regardless of the size of it, so it’s more about the feeling of space rather than the size of it. We could save ourselves a fortune in loft conversions and side-returns if we just had our interiors better planned out and less cluttered perhaps.
I think this is a surprise to us here in the UK where owning our home is the ultimate goal. Germany (ranked 2nd overall) is a nation where 50% of people rent. But its about stability and security that makes the difference here. If you feel you can stay at an address for ten years or longer you are going to feel happier as a result. The transitory nature of renting our flipping houses to better your options is not. Learn to love the home you’re in!
This quote from the report really stood out to me from Meik Wiking who is not only the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute but also wrote the best selling ‘Little Book of Hygge’.
“Our research shows that often we look for happiness in the wrong places. Sometimes what we think makes us happy and what really makes us happy are not the same. The report builds on the belief that our homes shape our lives. They are where we let our guard down and connect with loved ones. In a world demanding more and more of our attention, our homes are where we can retreat and seek refuge”
Create space. The research proved that a sense of space was integral to a feeling of well-being but this didn’t mean more space. So organise the space you have, declutter and have efficient storage systems in place.
Don’t move, improve. Invest time and energy in improving your home and adapting it to your needs. See it as an investment in your happiness.
Invite people round. Our homes are happier when we fill them with people we love. It increases our sense of pride and makes an emotional connection to where we live. I’ve never heard a better excuse to have a party.
Brings the outside in. Connection to nature is a fast track way to increasing happiness levels. Even if you don’t have an outside space, greenery, houseplants and botanical prints will improve the overall feeling of wellbeing.
Express yourself. This is the drum that I like to beat! Ignore the trends, ignore what the neighbours think, use your home to explore your sense of style and love of colour! From painting a wall your favourite hue to collecting items that make you smile, what you say goes!
This blog post is part of a paid partnership with GoodHome by B&Q. For more information and fascinating insight about the GoodHome Report visit www.diy.com/goodhome