Are Americans Happy?

“If only we could stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”
Edith Wharton

Since the pursuit of happiness is one of the United States’ great inalienable rights, you’d expect Americans to be pretty happy. And most are.

The Evidence
Source: World Database of Happiness
  • Whenever pollsters ask, roughly one third of Americans will agree that they’re ‘very happy,’ almost 60% allow to being ‘pretty happy’ and a mere tenth sniff that they’re ‘not so happy.’
  • Digging deeper, rich Americans are happier than poor, but only slightly. People with more education are a little happier too. And whites are decisively happier than blacks.
  • But hold the presses! According to something called the World Database of Happiness, the U.S. is only the twelfth happiest country, neck and neck with El Salvador. This massive comparison of happiness surveys across 68 nations reveals a shocker: the Swiss are the world’s happiest campers. Maybe it’s the stunning mountains and lakes, trains that run on time, non-existent litter, political neutrality and excellent chocolate.
  • Who else is out-happying America? Clean-living, affluent, egalitarian Scandinavia grabs four smiley-face places. Canadians are just glad they’re not Yanks, Brits or French. The Dutch ride around on bicycles and get to smoke pot. Aussies are the ‘no worries, mate’ people. Ireland has lots of pubs. Conflict-battered Nicaraguans and El Salvadorians have reached manana. Iceland and Ghana, who knows?

The Blame Game
Why has happiness in America been stagnant for decades? Go back to the statistics and you’ll find one group of Americans who’s former good mood has been gradually deflating for the past thirty years. Back in the seventies, freshly ‘liberated’ American women reckoned their lives were as good as men’s. Fast-forward to the mid-nineties and Americans say women have a worse deal, three to one. Keep house, drive the kids to soccer practice and hold down a job? Pass the Valium, honey.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's not easy being green" to quote Kermit the frog. Americans are living every day with unease. We constantly hear that people around this world dislike us intensely and yet whatever the problem, we are expected to fix it no matter where.

The US was extremely generous to many, many countries during the 20th century to the point where we may have shortchanged ourselves a bit. We do not have nationalized health care and probably never will because the money isn't here to pay for it. But if it's a tsunami or a perceived threat in Iraq, that is where our cash goes these days.

We are also in the midst of upheaval that no one much talks about because it is politically incorrect. I live in a northeastern state that currently has a population that is now 10% Mexican and that number just goes up daily. Last year the US allowed if that's the word, 3 million illegal Mexicans alone to come into this country and work but outside of the tax paying rules while we provided them with schooling from kindergarten through university, free medical care that we don't receive ourselves, and endless costs that just are never added up.

By the year 2050 I believe, fifty percent of the US will be hispanic. The immigrants that pour in are for the most part uneducated or barely educated and it will take several generations before they settle in and actually contribute financially to the nation they are living in. And unfortunately the illegals for the most part are coming from areas that have next to zero experience with democracy. The altruism that is referred to all of the time may not stay afloat much longer because that idea of community and service may disappear.

When we were the richest nation on earth, we certainly had a huge responsibility to open our doors as wide as possible. But we are no longer that nation. Germany is now the No. 1 exporter in the world and China surely is the No. 1 manufacturer.

I am a naturalized citizen and may look at things a bit oddly but I don't know a single American who wanted to be or wants to be the number one military power in the world. That happened somewhat by fluke because really until World War I and then WWII, this just wasn't a militarily strong nation. Economically yes, but not the guns part.

Most of us do want to live in peace but between 9-11 and the obvious dislike in the air about us, we are coming to a point where we will have to decide -- way ahead of our politicians -- if we want to retreat and return to isolationism or if we want to continue on the very shakey path we are on at the moment. And again, these decisions will more and more be made by people from other cultures who have recently moved in.

So to see that seven as an indication of just how happy we are is a bit staggering. The feeling that we are targets for some of the most violently angry groups in the world detracts from our lives more than outsiders know. Christianity is on the line against Islam and if their plan is for us to abandon our own principles and customs it will move the majority of moderate Americans to a more aggressive stance I believe.

I bet 100 years from now THE place that will provide the most happiness will be somewhere in Africa. They have so little in the way of material things right now but they are sitting atop the only large piece of land mass that we humans haven't totally trashed.

So we in the US know we are in a time of transition and most of us would be happy to be No. 2 or No.6, whatever, as long as we are allowed to live our own way of living which embraces the notion of diversity of thought -- and religion.

That's a issue we cannot answer completely by ourselves but until we deal with it clearly, unrest in our souls will hang over this land. And until our political system reverses itself and seeks out the integrity that was here in the very beginning, no amount of altruism is going to quench the anger and extreme disappointment that most
people at this point have at their "representatives."

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