Posts Tagged ‘Americans’

Money Makes Way For Happiness, But Happiness Still Can’t Be Bought

Monday, August 25th, 2008

http://www.worldchanging.com/2051810786_938f3d3167.jpg

Imagine a ladder with 10 rungs. Now, imagine that the lowest rung (0) is the worst possible life that you could have and the highest rung (10) is the best. Where would you fall on that ladder?

If you’re like almost half (49 percent) of Americans, you’re “thriving” on rung seven through 10, according to the most recent Gallup World poll. Another 47 percent of us are “struggling” on rungs five through six, and four percent are “suffering” below rung four.

Looking into the backstory behind the overall estimates of “thriving” vs. “suffering,” we learn that the vast majority of Americans surveyed (84 percent) experienced enjoyment the day before participating. In comparison, only 38 percent experienced stress, 30 percent were worried, and 23 percent felt physical pain. A large percent (67 percent) ate healthy food the day before, 60 percent did something interesting, while only 33 percent worried about money. It’s these factors—not feeling pain, not worrying about money, and having options to do and eat what we enjoy—that are associated with happiness.

As we learn just what makes us happy and how reliable our happiness polling can be, researchers and policy makers are trying to decide just how much our happiness can and should affect policy and vice versa. First, the ultimate question: does money bring happiness?

Click here for the full article.

In my opinion, the problem with questions like, “Does money bring happiness?”  is that they all focus on just one factor of a person’s overall well-being.  No one thing, like money, family, freedom, or anything else, will make or break your happiness.  Happiness is determined by a combination of internal and external factors.

For example, having money might help you have a good education, but it will not necessarily give you the intellect to utilize that opportunity or the personality to appreciate it.  Under these circumstances, the education purchased with that money fails to make you happy, and therefore that money has ultimately failed to make you happy.  You had an external factor of happiness, but lacked a corresponding internal factor of happiness.

I do believe that it is easier for people with a certain amount of available capital to be happy.  People at a particular income level can afford better healthcare, safer shelter, and warmer clothing, and they therefore should have fewer worries.

What do you think?

-MJ

There’s Something About Denmark

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Three years ago, if you had asked a person from Denmark the secret to happiness, you probably would have gotten back a blank stare. The same question today, however, likely would be answered with knowing laughter and any one of several explanations.

Being recognized as the world’s happiest people simply takes some getting used to.

Since 2006, Denmark, a largely homogenous country of 5 million people on Europe’s stormy northern coast, has been anointed the happiest place on earth by two very different surveys. The studies’ findings have upended dated international perceptions of Denmark as a quaint but chilly dairy exporter with a high suicide rate, recasting the country instead as a model of social harmony that is thriving in an era of globalization.

Click here for the full article.

That’s it.  I’m moving to Denmark.

The article also says, “Denmark’s approach relies on high taxes and aggressive redistribution of wealth—anathema to many free-market Americans—which results in a broad range of social services like health care, retirement pensions, and quality public schools.”  I fully support the free market and individual responsibility for one’s success, but I also sometimes think that “aggressive redistribution of wealth” would be a good thing even if all it did was guarantee that we had better public schools.  Some of our nation’s public schools are in positively shameful conditions.  Evidence suggests that access to a good education creates happier people with an overall better quality of life.  I know I’d be happier knowing that every child in American had access to a clean, structurally sound school building, with decent teachers and an effective curriculum.   How about you?

-MJ

The Secrets To Happiness

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Daniel Gilbert, PhD, a Harvard psychologist, says that Americans do a tremendous amount of “miswanting.” We keep wanting things that will never make us happy. For example, practically everyone wants to be rich and thin. Yet, he points out, studies show that having enough money for the basic necessities of life–food, clothing, and shelter, which cost maybe $40,000 a year–is all we really need for happiness. The effect of the next $10 million is negligible.

This tells us that although we fervently believe that something we can touch, like piles of cash or cellulite-free thighs, is going to light up our hearts, the truth is that we usually don’t know what will make us happy. Worse, we don’t know that we don’t know, so we ardently pursue the wrong things.

Click here for the full article.

I think relationships provide an excellent example of miswanting.  Have you ever longed for or loved someone who actualy made you miserable?  I bet you have, or know someone who has.

Take as an example Philip*, whose girlfriend is hated by all his friends because she only uses Philip for his money, or Sonia*, whose boyfriend regularly cheats on her and verbally abuses her.  But Philip and Sonia say that they love their girlfriend and boyfriend, and want to remain with them, regardless of the misery these relationships cause.  I would call this miswanting – they desperately want and pursue someone who, ultimately, will not make them happy.

-MJ

*Names and situations are fictional.

Free time outranks wealth in happiness survey

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Wealth may be playing less of a role in Americans’ pursuit of happiness, according to results from a Pew Research Center survey.

Thirteen percent of 2,413 respondents in a survey earlier this year said being wealthy was “very important” to them, according to a survey posted Wednesday on the Pew Research Center’s Web site. Other opinion choices were “somewhat important” or “not very important.” It ranked last among seven statements of priority such as living a religious life, doing volunteer work, donating to charity or being married.

Nearly 70% of respondents said “hav[ing] enough free time to do things you want to do” was very important, the Web site said. This received the largest amount of very important votes. Having children and being successful in a career ranked second with 61% of respondents saying these were very important to them.

Click here for the full article.

World’s largest health study: We’re stressed, we’re struggling and we like weekends

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

The Gallup Organization and Healthways, Inc., released the first data from the country’s largest poll on health and happiness today, showing that almost half of all Americans characterize themselves as “struggling” on those fronts.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index polls 1,000 people a day nationwide, including Spanish speakers, cell phone users and other people normally left out of national opinion surveys. It’s the largest ever survey of its kind, and Gallup has committed to doing it for the next 25 years. It began Jan. 1.

Almost 40% of those polled said they were significantly stressed the day before. Two-thirds said they had at least one of a list of chronic health problems, including high blood pressure or cholesterol. Almost a third, 28%, said they were not well-rested. A third said they worried about money the day before, 30% said they had a lot of worries in general and 23% said they were in physical pain.

Click here for the full article.