Pretty happy people

imageAccording to a recent poll, two-thirds of Canadians are “pretty happy.” This to me is the perfect Canadian answer. When you ask a Canadian “How are you?” nine times out of ten, the answer will be “pretty good.” Not “great,” not “lousy,” not “get off my porch before I call the cops,” but “pretty good.” It’s that kind of contained enthusiasm that has made Canada the mostly all right country it is today.

Canadians’ other choices in the survey were “very happy” and “not too happy,” as if miserable was out of the question. As if some form of happiness, even if it’s only a glimmer, a spark, a soupcon of happiness, is a given if you’re a Canadian, or at least a Canadian answering a survey. Because if you’re answering a survey, chances are you have a phone, and if you have a phone, well, you haven’t quite hit rock bottom yet, have you?

And who’s to say that “not too happy” is a bad thing? Who wants to be “too happy”? Your cheeks hurt from smiling all the time, you can’t sleep, people start thinking you’re on drugs. If you’re too happy, you’re probably not using all that happiness very efficiently. It’s a waste of happy, being too happy. Settle down. Here: read this pamphlet on parliamentary reform.

This news came a week after we learned that Canada has been rated as the second-best country in the world, according to a survey released at the World Economic Forum. The #1 country was Germany, which surpassed Canada in terms of entrepreneurship, but that’s only because we’re pretty happy doing the jobs we’ve always had, thanks. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t let a beaver anywhere near it, those destructive beasts!

And of course there was that New York Times piece that declared Canada “hip.” And an article in GQ India entitled “Canada is making the rest of us look bad.” India, by the way, was ranked #22 in the country survey. Did I mention that Canada was also ranked #1 for seeking out flattering media reports no matter how obscure?

So, we’re pretty happy, we’re hip, we’re #15 for adventure, whatever that means. (Probably we need more pirates.) All in all, Canada’s a pretty good place to be.

But, of course, these are generalizations when you’re talking about a country of nearly 10 million square kilometres and nearly 36 million people and nearly universal access to Wikipedia data. Not everyone is happy and not every place in Canada is good to live in and not every smouldering look I give is going to melt the ladies’ hearts, although that’s not really the issue here, a survey for another time, perhaps.

I’m a happy Canadian, but I’m not happy all the time. Sometimes I’m between “not too happy” and “pretty happy,” a kind of “on the verge of happy.” I’m sort of happy when I get a yogurt out of the fridge, for instance. But when I see that it’s a Greek yogurt, then I’m a little less happy because there’s a fine line between Greek yogurt and window caulking.

I’m happy my children are all safe, well-adjusted young people. But then the other day, one of them took a shower while watching cartoons on an iPad perched on a vanity with the sound blaring through a Bluetooth speaker, letting the water run and run. This made me unhappy for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on other than it seeming really impractical and too loud and steamy. Maybe because it’s been so long since I did anything loud and steamy myself.

Sometimes I get so not too happy that, like a lot of people, I look at my life and think, “I deserve better.” But then I remember that people who think that should really ask themselves, “Do you really?”

Somewhere along the way we’ve come to feel entitled to happiness. If we’re not deliriously happy all the time, we feel cheated or even broken. But, as with this huge country of diverse, strange and (let’s be honest) only sporadically hip people, pure happiness comes and goes.

And that’s okay. When you come right down to it, “pretty happy” is pretty good. Even better if you enjoy taking surveys.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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33 Responses to Pretty happy people

  1. Well…you’ve gone and gave me the giggles, Ross. I guess that makes me “pretty happy”…was that a choice?
    I love your spelling of “kilometre” and find comfort in the knowledge to know it’s not just my kiddo (teenager) who blares Spongebob through the Flip speaker while taking a too long shower.
    Thanks to you, I think it’s going to be a pretty good day.

  2. well, pretty good post.

  3. Here I am still giggling from your songs yesterday, and now this post. I’d say I’m happy reading your blog. I’m considering visiting Canada now to crank my happiness up a notch. I mean, it’s right next door, all I need is a good pair of snowshoes.

  4. pinklightsabre says:

    Our last night in the UK, in Canterbury, I asked Dawn how her risotto was at the restaurant and she said Pretty good, and she was lying. You get that sense of happy entitlement second hand, south of the border, where we’re entitled to all kinds of stuff it’s in are cunstu-too-shun. More Scott Walker posts. I think that song Jesse was written for Elvis’s still-born brother. You think Glenn Frey had it bad, dying in the same media cycle as Bowie.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I actually had a line in there about that, the pursuit of happiness encoded in the American DNA and how it spills over. But then I just whittled it down to entitlement, because why resort to stereotypes. Oh wait, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

  5. gavinkeenan says:

    How do I get dual citizenship? By now I guess the Canadians want to build a wall to keep us Yanks out.

  6. That’s pretty good, Ross. And so are you.

  7. I’ve often wished I were Canadian, but then I remember … snow. Snow and poutine.

  8. ksbeth says:

    yes, i like ‘pretty happy.’ it’s probably the most honest answer most of us can give. easier to explain than ‘sort of pregnant.’

  9. List of X says:

    Well, why wouldn’t you Canadians be pretty happy? You have universal health care and aren’t faced with the possibility of having Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the next president. By the way, thanks a lot for that second one. I’m sure that also makes Canadians pretty happy that he’s down here.

  10. peachyteachy says:

    Although not Canadian, I still hold to the magical, really happy vibe of the narwhal. Which is Canadian.

  11. The pursuit of happiness is a relatively modern contrivance. For hundreds of years, mankind was focused on just surviving. Now that we’ve built a few cities and have accomplished some things, we want to kick back and think we deserve happiness. It’s a funny notion. And happiness is such a fluid thing. Just like misery (thank Bog). The high instance of happiness can mean people were surveyed on a good day. Nothing more.

  12. Jeff says:

    I could be very happy.. If I could only find my Hip…

  13. I’m a greedy American, but I’m pretty happy after reading this. It’s contagious. 🙂

  14. R. Todd says:

    Pretty happy is pretty good, granted, after reading this I’m thinking I need to move to Canada.

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