America, lighten up


Why isn’t America happy? We are ranked 14th happiest of 155 countries in the world.
Individual success has always been something people have focused on in America. To some extent, “it’s all about me.”

No matter how much a person has, they should be happy. It’s not about what you don’t have, it’s about what you do have. Taking things for granted can cause people to become bitter and self-centered, and no one wants to be thought of that way.
Duane Barksdale, junior, said, “People don’t appreciate the things that they have that aren’t given to other people in other countries. Most things that are necessary for life have always just been given to us, and we expect everything else.”
According to the New York Times, Denmark, ranked the happiest in the world, tends to be a country of low expectations. They are very collectivistic; they think winning as a society leads to success as an individual.
Denmark reports having lower expectations for the year to come compared to other countries. In the United States, not only do we have high expectations for ourselves, but other people expect a lot from us, too. People of Denmark do not make a huge deal of New Year’s resolutions, and “year after year, they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Denmark seems strikingly different compared to the United States. We are very individualistic and strive to ensure our own success. Studies have shown that most Americans would rather work by themselves on a project than in a group. In contrast to Denmark, we idolize skinny women and encourage healthy diets. Denmark is more relaxed about food and health. This causes people to stress about their weight and what they are eating. By doing so, it can cause people to have low self-esteems. A low self-esteem and happiness never mix. Denmark is much more relaxed about food and health, causing people to be concerned about much more important things.
People in the United States are always striving to be better and faster, setting unbelievably high expectations for themselves that are almost impossible to achieve.
According to Forbes, a little over half of all Americans are “thriving” and about 40% are “struggling.” Whether you are thriving or struggling does not reflect your happiness.
Thriving means that you are wealthy, fortunate and successful- it mentions nothing about being happy. Struggling does not mean unhappy. Struggling means continuing to persevere against an opposing force. In this case, the opposing force is a financial struggle.
Three percent of Americans are suffering. Three percent doesn’t seem like much, but consider how this data was found. The average person probably wouldn’t be willing to tell someone in a survey that they are suffering. Factors like these contribute to the gilded appearance of life in America. We look happy to the outside world, but in reality, almost half of us are struggling for basic necessities.
We are a wealthy country, and the people who are the most sad are the ones who have always had the most. Happiness is a feeling; you can’t buy feelings. If that was possible, wouldn’t the richest be the happiest? They’re not.
Some people, almost half according to Forbes, have been struggling for their entire life. People that have been struggling for basic necessities aren’t happy either. The middle class appears to be the happiest. They can afford the necessities, and have money for some extra things, too. They have budgets and their share of struggles but tend to enjoy life with what they have. Is there a correlation between money and happiness?
In some cases, there could be. “Money doesn’t buy happiness” is true, but not having to worry about paying rent or buying groceries causes less stress. But in effect, does always having what you need and want cause people to not appreciate what they have? It’s an everlasting cycle.
In other cases, people with less feel entitled to what they have. They deserve their free dinner and food stamps. They can become bitter and ungrateful.
It appears that having a small amount of extra money leads people to be the happiest.
Regardless of what a person has, they need to be appreciative. Everyone has something to be grateful for. If people took a second to step back and look at what they have, they might cherish it more.


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