Are Americans happy?
The government wants to know.
Now that it’s tax season, the government has a lot of questions for you: How much money do you make, and how do you spend it? How many dependents do you have? Have you purchased a car or a refrigerator with a good energy rating?
Soon the feds may be asking a more surprising question: Are you happy?
The US government is considering the establishment of a happiness index. As noted by NPR, Canada, France, Britain, and Bhutan in South Asia have already added measures of citizen happiness to official statistics.
More from MSN Living: 40 time-saving tips
The reaction of an unhappy cynic may fall somewhere along the lines of, “Yeah, like you care.” But when government programs and state spending are traced to their core incentives, your happiness turns out to be a major motivator. New bridges and tunnels are built to ease commuting, which is widely cited as a source of anger and frustration; pensions ensure income after retirement, a common cause of anxiety; federal funding of the arts supports the richness of our culture, which contributes to the fullness of one’s life.
Psychologists have long been collecting data on happiness and have a diverse range of studies suggesting both causes and consequences. Sex makes people happy, one shocker of a study found a few months ago. Other recent research has traced contentment to everything from conservatism and entrepreneurship to genetic makeup. Another found, paradoxically, that too much happiness can make you unhappy.
More from MSN Living: 7 easy ways to get better sleep
For the feds, though, happiness is uncharted territory. If a census taker were to ring your doorbell and ask if you were happy, what would you say?
There are objective criteria to describe your income or the number of people living in your home, but quantifying happiness is trickier business. UK data has been culled using a variety of data points based not only on wealth and health but on the quality of friends and social life and on how much time is spent in nature. The World Database of Happiness incorporates many measures to characterize different kinds, durations, and ratings of happiness (“Have you ever felt on top of the world?” How much do any feelings of sadness or depression interfere with your everyday functioning?”).
Would a US happiness index reflect how happy Americans are feeling at the moment they’re asked, or how they feel about life in general? You can have family and friends and love and contentment aplenty, but if you’ve just banged your head on something sharp, all bets are off. On the flip side, NPR mentions a study in which a good state of mind was reported by subjects who found a nickel shortly before being questioned.
Apparently happiness is fleeting. If you’re lucky, sadness is, too.
An earlier version of this article mistakenly referenced the island of Buton in Indonesia rather than the kingdom of Bhutan.
Photo: Andy Ryan/Getty Images
About fifty percent of America will never be happy, As they are losers for four years
and this time around they sure are crying in their beer, All most as hard as we did
when George W. was swindling us!
How can AMERICANS be happy , with all of the CRAP going on in GOVERNMENT, taking care of all of the WHINERS, all of the ILLEGAL'S cashing in on the hard work done by the LEGAL TAXPAYERS. ON and ON and ON.
Till we get thru the next 4 years maybe then we might be happy.
Of course I am Happy!
I am a Christian.
Aginst me the gates of Hell have no power.
Have a nice day.
inspire: live a better life
Summer and winter tend to hog all the glory when it comes to travel high seasons. Sure, you want to soak up all the time at the beach you can during the summer, and you just want to escape the cold during the last months of the year.
Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.
In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):
Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. And what you can fit in your carry-on can make all the difference (and not just a fresh pair of socks), especially when you get that low battery signal.
Volunteering (and these other rituals) might be just as good as exercise when it comes to extending your life.
Use these tricks to set a better tone for the rest of the week.
Whether it involves a food fight, mermaids or a torch-lit procession, people the world over know how to have a good time. Here are some of the biggest, boldest, booziest celebrations around, along with some tips to get the full experience.
Research could mean more effective treatment for human disorders.
An entry a day might keep the doctor away (or at least the shrink).
One woman's shout-outs to daily moments of joy — and how to cultivate them.
Our best health and fitness tips including the one move that tones all, berry news, and more.