Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Posted on July 4, 2011 by

The recent Harris Happiness Index finds a two percent drop in American happiness this year.

Based on a complicated and somewhat dubious methodology, respondents are asked to rate their degree of “life satisfaction” and “feelings of anxiousness” as well as to quantify their own financial, spiritual, familial and interpersonal condition.

Accordingly, about a third of Americans are found to be “very happy.”  Women out-happy men, blacks out-happy whites, the rich out-happy the poor and the old out-happy the young (decide for yourself what meaning this poll has, if any).

Harris seems oddly disconnected to the nation’s economic doldrums, particularly to our short and long-term employment prospects, including the generally-accepted notion that, in America, wealth disparity is up and upward mobility is down.

If there is any takeaway from this data, it may be that as far as personal happiness is concerned, a lot of intangible are in play.

Personal success, for example, is broadly defined these days.  Many people who struggle financially get their gratification in other ways.  Our society has matured considerably over the past several years.  Fathers are more involved with their kids, there’s less racial and ethnic animosity, gender equality makes for more satisfying relationships and homophobia is on the way out.

Social progress certainly doesn’t overcome economic and other adversities.

And I’m not trying to dismiss or minimize our severe national problems.

But sometimes it helps to just take a look at the good things going on around us.  Which may not be a bad way to improve our own happiness index.

Comments (2)


  1. Alan K. says:

    Lincoln said it best: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

  2. deborah says:

    i like your “view”

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