Metropolises attract many people like magnets. The city never sleeps: It lives, protects, and provides us with plenty of opportunities. At the same time, cities are also noisy, fast, demanding, and brash. Dichotomies that attract us – as confirmed by the smart survey.

Joy is a basic human requirement once fundamental needs like personal space, time, flexibility, comfort, and financial security have been met. Yet people, and urbanites especially, love their trials, hurdles, stumbling blocks, and diversions. We need our everyday challenges to maximize and really appreciate the sparkling zest of life.

Against this background, joy comes in all shapes and guises – everyone has different needs and preferences. So, how do you measure a city’s overall level of joy?

smart recently conducted an international and representative study on joy, not quality of life. And while this might sound like needless differentiation, the distinction is quite significant. Previous studies on the subject have focused on external factors like people’s financial situation, working conditions, job opportunities, educational opportunities, health care, etc. The smart study, on the other hand, surveyed our subjective sense of joy. Together with market and media research institute rheingold the brand investigated the individual and subjective perception of 3,269 European urbanites; identifying, substantiating, and comparing six factors that shape our sense of urban joy:

These factors involve challenges, so-called ‘Herculean tasks,’ that confront the city’s residents. As mentioned earlier, joy does not thrive in a problem-free environment, but arises when we successfully brave everyday urban challenges.

Photo: saabi/

These trials make us feel alive and allow us to develop and grow. And although the resulting sense of joy is somewhat lower in cities more affected by current crises, the demands on urban life and factors of urban joy remain more or less comparable across Europe. So, in terms of psychology and urban joy, there are far more commonalities between Europeans than the current political situation and related discussions might suggest. We are all a little bit European at heart. And that’s something to celebrate.

For further results of the smart study, check out

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