Did you get a chance to read the five-part article on happiness in the latest Time issue? It’s a great read. Here are some statistics that I found really interesting and wanted to share with you:
U.S. ranks 23rd on a 50 country happiness index.
We spent $118 billion on travel abroad in 2012.
We spend close to $25 billion a year to attend sporting events.
We spent close to $11 million on movie tickets last year.
We spend an annual $140 billion on recreational equipment.
AND $200 billion on electronics.
Consumptive happiness isn’t making us really happy.
Since 1972, only about 1/3 of Americans have described themselves as “very happy“.
And since 2004, the share of Americans who identify as optimists has plummeted from 79% to 50%!
“The pursuit of happiness, once an ideal, has become a big business (pills, food, self-improvement products and services) but not an effective one.”
Our genes, distractions and money all play a big role on the state of our personal happiness. Money can indeed buy you happiness, but “when your desires outpace what you can afford, even rising income can be accompanied by falling feelings of well-being”. It’s how you spend it. Interesting, huh?
“No American simply inherits happiness by dint of genes or birthplace or a brain set to sunny.” We have to work at it-always.
In our lives:
-Degrees don’t necessarily make people happier, but money does, and higher education is linked to higher income. Teenagers say achievements like getting good grades are central to their happiness.
-Acts of kindness flick the happy switches in our brains; studies have shown that people who volunteer are more satisfied with their lives and are less likely to be depressed.
-An estimated 20 million people practice yoga, and about 60% of them say they bend and breathe to relieve stress.
-Intense aerobic activity yields a neurobiological high that encourages habitual exercise, like a daily jog. People who say they are in good health consistently say they’re happier too.
-Being your own boss means more autonomy but can yield less job security. Overall, self-employed workers in countries like the U.S. report greater job satisfaction.
–Self-help books are beneficial. They pass along many of the same lessons as in-person therapy.
–Going back to work helps moms stay upbeat. Stay-at-home moms are more likely to experience anger and sadness than working moms.
Bonus stats: Latinos and Happiness
-Decades of civil war and poverty in Guatemala have led to a proliferation of violent crime, yet its people are among the sunniest of the world.
–Panama reports the highest levels of happiness, although almost a third of the population lives below the poverty line.
–Mexicans boast higher-than-average of happiness despite enduring a long-running drug war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
What do you make of all this? Are you an optimist? What are some things you do to stay upbeat?