If you are feeling pretty miserable right now, you are not alone. That’s the basic conclusion of Gallup’s annual Global Emotions Report.
Based on the responses of 151,000 plus adults from over 140 countries, the purpose of the survey is to gauge the feelings and emotions (“life’s intangibles”) that cannot be measured through more practical means like GDP, life expectancy, and the wealth gap.
Instead, respondents were asked to answer questions that tested their state of mind. “Did you feel well-rested yesterday?” “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” “Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?” etc.
The results suggest that the human race is having a bit of a hard time as of right now. 2018’s Negative Experience Index score tied with last year at 30 points – that is the highest it’s been since the survey began in 2006.
While overall stress levels did, in fact, drop from last year (35 percent), feelings of worry (39 percent), sadness (24 percent), and anger (22 percent) are on the rise. The people of “crisis-wracked” Chad had the highest score (54), whereas those in Taiwan (14) had the lowest.
In the US, more than half of Americans (55 percent) reported feeling stress much of the previous day while just under half (45 percent) said they had felt worried. That is six percent and five percent up respectively from the previous year.
Meanwhile, feelings of anger are up 5 percent – 22 percent reported feeling a lot of anger the previous day.
But there is some good news. While we appear to be more sad and more angry than usual, people are reporting more positive experiences than they have in the last three years – with a global average of 71 points.
And if you want to boost your happiness levels further, you may want to consider moving to Latin America.
As in previous years, countries in South America dominated the top of the chart, with Paraguay coming up on top (again) with a point score of 85. Panama tied for first (85), while Guatemala (84), Mexico (84), and El Salvador (83) trailed a little behind. As you might have noticed, this contrasts with other happiness lists (based on more practical measures) that tends to rate Nordic countries highest.
Right at the bottom of the chart sits Yemen (50), Belarus (48), and Afghanistan (43). Only 36 percent of Afghanis reported having smiled or laughed the previous day, which is a tied record low for any country over the past 12 years.
If moving to South America isn't an option, there is some life advice we can take away from Paraguay and Panama's happy residents and that is to "focus on life's positives".
"The high percentages reporting positive emotions in Latin America at least partly reflect the cultural tendency in the region to focus on life’s positives," the study authors write.
"The single variable that Gallup finds to be predictive of results on both the Positive and Negative Experience Indexes is country of origin, suggesting some cultural bias exists in how people answer these questions."