A special message from John de Graaf, co-founder of the Happiness Alliance and founder of And Beauty For All:
I'm excited to report that the Happiness Alliance’s Happiness Index survey now contains a question helping to measure the connection between beauty (landscape and built environment) and happiness or wellbeing.
I’ve argued for some time that this is an important connection. An extensive Gallup study (Soul of the Community) and another by the University of South Carolina (Untangling what makes cities livable: happiness in five cities) and The Beauty-Happiness Connection) have established a strong connection between the "aesthetics" of a community and the life satisfaction and attachment to the place of its residents.
A study in Vienna, Austria found that people walking through areas of parks and green spaces report higher happiness and have lower cortisol levels (Green Space and Stress: Evidence from Cortisol Measures in Deprived Urban Communities). Another extensive study using the Mappiness app in the UK showed higher levels of everyday life satisfaction in places thought to be aesthetically pleasing by a large study of preferences using photos of places (Happiness is Greater in Natural Environments). And a series of studies in Philadelphia (To Combat Gun Violence, Clean Up the Neighborhood) showed a major drop in crime, decrease in mental illness and increase in community trust where ugly, littered, lots and abandoned homes in the city were converted to parks and gardens. And there's lots more evidence!