The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Is The United States Happy?
The United States was once known as the best country in the world, and to many, it still is. When it was founded by the forefathers, it was seen as a land of opportunity, a land where freedom could reign, and the people ran the country by votes. This land of America, the United States, was to be a Democratic nation.
Fast forward a few hundred years and the results are seen in the United States we live in today. Many people have cars, houses, and the greatest technology in the world that they could ever imagine. They have jobs to ensure they can afford these things, and everything in the country is right, and everyone has everything they could ever need.
Unfortunately, not all of the people in the United States are happy, whether they believe happiness is achieved by obtaining a status, money, wealth, land, marriage, position, or an occupation, or career, happiness is just a state of mind. There is no way to make everyone in a country happy. Some people may be happy just to have what they have, while others struggle at attempts to find what they believe is happiness.
This infographic displays the results of happiness in United States.
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On Top of the World … Or Not: Happiness in the U.S.
The definition of happiness differs from person to person, group to group. But based on measurable data including standard of living and mental health issues, countries and their residents can be ranked and compared by their overall happiness. So where does the U.S. fall and how does it compare to nations across the globe?
In the U.S.
With a relatively high standard of living, Americans generally are happier than those in other countries around the world. But what does that really mean? What are they happiest, or unhappiest, about?
A recent Gallup poll measured Americans’ feelings about their own lives in five categories. (1) For each category, people fit into one of three groups: suffering (low and inconsistent well-being), struggling (moderate and inconsistent well-being) or thriving (strong and consistent well-being). While most of us aren’t suffering, we aren’t thriving, either.
Category Suffering Struggling Thriving
Purpose 16% 48% 37%
What it covers: Liking your daily activities and feeling motivation to achieve your goals
Social 16% 43% 41%
What it covers: Having supportive relationships and love in one’s life
Financial 23% 38% 39%
What it covers: Managing economic life to reduce stress and enhance security
Community 15% 47% 38%
What it covers: Liking where you live, feeling safe and taking pride in community
Physical 12% 56% 33%
What it covers: Having good health and ample energy to get through the day
1 in 3
Americans who identified as “very happy” in a Harris Poll survey (2)
Why Aren’t We Happier?
With just one-third of Americans saying they’re very happy, what factors might be contributing to our moodiness?
Less than 50%
Percentage of both full- and part-time workers in the U.S. satisfied with their jobs (1)
1 in 7
Americans living in poverty (3)
Americans living with a chronic health condition (4)
U.S. unemployment rate, September 2014 (5)
Americans who experience homelessness each year (6)
Around the Globe
So how do Americans stack up against people in other countries? As you might expect, we’re not the happiest, but we’re not the most miserable either. According to a United Nations analysis of national sentiment, the happiest people in the world live in Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands. The least happy?
Factors considered include: (7)
Strong social networks
Mental and physical health
Standard of living
Those factors and others were combined to determine each country’s life satisfaction score, on a scale of 1-10.
Top 20 (8)
New Zealand, 7.2
United States, 7
Hong Kong, 5.5
Bottom 20 (8)
Democratic Republic of the Congo, 4.6
Sierra Leone, 4.5
Central African Republic, 3.7