The key to happiness? Have a good sing-along
BARBARA Benner describes herself as a happy individual. She puts her cheeriness down to all the singing that goes on in the Benners' home.
"We sing all the time," the 44-year-old mum-of-three, of McIntosh Road, Gedling, said.
"It is proven that singing lifts your mood, especially when you're singing with other people – in harmony. I think we as a family get on better and fight less because of it."
She often plays along on the piano when singing with her kids, Joshua, 10, Molly, six, and Sophie, four.
Mrs Benner currently leads three choirs – the Stanhope High Notes Choir who sang for the Queen in July, a choir she started for Sherwood E-ACT Academy, as well as a four-strong singing group called Revolution 4.
Research, published in 2008 by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health in Kent, found singing regularly with others makes people happier. It surveyed more than 1,100 choral singers in Australia, Germany and the UK.
When the Post carried out surveys across the county the "happiest" so far has been West Bridgford, where residents gave an average score of 8.5, closely followed by Mapperley where the average was 8.3. The average score across the ten areas surveyed so far is 7.4.
Most reasons given for higher scores in an area were down to friendly people, a generally nice atmosphere and good public transport links.
The idea of a "happiness index" was first floated by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2005, when he was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. He argued that gross domestic product (GDP) – the standard measure of economic output – was no longer up to the job.
The Office for National Statistics was commissioned in 2010 to ask people to rate their own wellbeing and the first official happiness index was published earlier this year.
It found the five happiest areas in the country are Orkney & Shetland, Rutland, Anglesey, Wiltshire and West Berkshire, with the unhappiest being North Ayrshire, Blaenau Gwent, Swansea, County Durham and Blackpool. Notts was 42nd and Nottingham was 64th. But professor Ian Shaw, of Nottingham University's School of Sociology and Social Policy, cast doubt on the effectiveness of the figures.
He said: "A measurement of happiness is a spectrum from absolutely exuberant down to clinical depression and we do not have any tools which can successfully pin-point where individuals are on that spectrum."