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Debunking The Misery Myth: 10 Reasons NYC Is The Happiest City In The US

There’s been a lot of media chatter lately about NYC residents and their misery. NYC is the most miserable city in the US actually, according to data gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What most have failed to mention is that much of the data was collected through surveys known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which, as it turns out, is “the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey,” according to the CDC website.

Yes, as a New Yorker, nothing brings out my positivity more than a cyborg-sounding human asking for 10 minutes of my time as I’m running out the door.

I would obviously decline. Unless, of course, I’m the venting type, like those people at Whole Foods who spend half an hour filing a complaint because the chain stopped selling their favorite yogurt.

I rest my case.

A Harvard professor who studied the data has even stated that happiness rankings were not necessarily indications of whether or not a city was a desirable place to live, according to mic.com and The Boston Globe.

Here’s the thing: New Yorkers like to complain, but it doesn’t mean we’re unhappy. Blame it on the “Seinfeld” stereotype — that existentialist attitude where life’s daily grievances are rehashed, analyzed and mentally filed away until the next fun outing. Drop us in any other city and it would mostly likely be the same outcome.

Let’s look at some other data: NYC received more than 230,000 residents in just three years (2010-2013) and gained more people than it lost, according to the Census Bureau.

So, maybe we can work on being less naggy, but NYC must have some pretty big rewards keeping us here, right? (I can’t believe I have to justify this):

1. Your career and dreams have a sky-high ladder

Whether you’re in finance, an entrepreneur, an aspiring actor or aerial circus acrobat, you will have immeasurable opportunities.

Most likely, the headquarters to your dream company, organization or training ground is located here. NYC also boasts some of the highest paid salaries in the nation, so with hard work, a thick skin and a little luck, anything is possible.


2. Your greatest passion is a few blocks away

The city that never sleeps does not just refer to nightlife. We have 24-hour gyms, dance and arts classes, photography and film centers, culinary schools, places to become a DJ or a designer.

You can even learn competitive chess just by walking through a park; the options are endless. The beach and mountains are not far away, and there’s even white water rafting outside the city.


3. You meet the world’s most interesting, talented people

With such a large influx of newbies from all over the world, many of whom come to hone their craft, it’s almost impossible to meet boring people. If you prefer that type, however, I’m sure you can find them as well.

Your friend roster will grow and you will continue to learn new things from your unique compadres on a daily basis.


4. Boredom is a non-existent word

See two and three… the whole list, actually. Add on Broadway, nightlife, every type of restaurant and activity imaginable and multiply that times five evolving boroughs and the indefinable buzz that only NYC streets possess.

Oh, and it will take you a lifetime to discover it all. Enough said.


5. You are never alone, if you choose not to be. If you do, there are beautiful hideaways.

It’s a myth that NYC is a giant pit of loneliness. All of the boroughs have a plethora of sub-neighborhoods, each with its own loyal community. Be prepared to befriend your gym mates, neighbors and local business owners.

Even the dude at my local bodega refers to me by name. New Yorkers, more often than not, are kind and outgoing. If you’re more of an introvert, there are tons of empty spaces in nearby parks, gardens, libraries and museums.


6. Creativity and inspiration are everywhere

Period.


7. Dating is amazing, if you’re looking at it from a positive angle

I can see the angry comments now. Allow me to explain: I do somewhat agree with the rumors that romantic relationships rarely last more than a few days here. I’ve experienced it myself.

But, maybe those are the wrong relationships. If you had your pick of one of the most attractive, talented and unique pools of people in the world, wouldn’t you refuse to waste longer than a day on the wrong mate?

I’m not condoning meaningless hookups or throwing people away, but I think there are more than a few people for everyone here. If your head is on straight, you don’t take it all too seriously, focus on yourself first and keep an open mind (OK, online dating and good psycho radar helps, too), you have a great chance of finding the right match.

Learning to enjoy the process of meeting new people, making new friends and having fun along the way will only help your success rate.


8. You are accepted for you

No city or town is perfect, including NYC. We have had our own bouts of racism, hate crimes and other injustices, but relative to the rest of the country, NYC allows you to be yourself. In fact, we encourage it.

If one thing is highly valued here, it’s originality and diversity. We were the hub of immigration and multiculturalism, and home to the birth of hip-hop and fashion week. Artists of all types flock to our streets to be trained and exhibit their talents to adoring audiences.

We continue to welcome newcomers and try to take care of our own by being leaders in gun control policies and one of the first states to pass same-sex marriage. Hey, if you want to wear nothing more than a top hat and dance to EDM in the middle of the subway car, we will quietly watch you and at least try to understand.


9. You don’t need a car and can get anywhere quickly any time, day or night

We hear your town has limited public transportation and a bar curfew. Just saying.


10. You become the best version of yourself

If you’re unhappy to begin with, don’t rely on a city to make you happy. If you arrive here happy or at least are willing to work to become happy, NYC will foster that attitude.

Sure, it’s not always easy: The cost of living is high, the winters are cold, it can get ridiculously crowded and the subway may cook you in the summer. But that’s the trade off to having everything at your doorstep.

If you can make it past the adjustment bumps, you may start liking the changes you see in yourself, like creativity, open-mindedness, gratefulness and the confidence to follow every goal on your career and bucket list. The best part is realizing that you can actually fulfill all of those goals here.

Until then, just walking these streets is enough to make me happy… but I’m just a miserable New Yorker, so don’t listen to me.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It

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Mich Cardin

Contributor

Mich Cardin is a NYC-based journalist and photographer with experience in news reporting and arts & culture writing. Her work can be found in various publications including The Huffington Post and The Boston Globe. She studied creative writ ...
Mich Cardin is a NYC-based journalist and photographer with experience in news reporting and arts & culture writing. Her work can be found in various publications including The Huffington Post and The Boston Globe. She studied creative writ ...

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