My ex-boyfriend was Brasilian and was never afraid to say it. He was extremely proud of his nationality and to me that was always such an admirable quality. But every now and then I would get a little bothered because he would go off about the culture down there, and how their culture compared to that of America.
Ok, maybe “a little bothered” is an understatement. I got really heated. This is how I saw it: Here he was, living in the United States, the best country in the world, and nothing but complaints came out of his mouth.
He would tell me that Brasil had its priorities straight and that his country was far more family-focused than mine was, that the people down there were happier even though they had less, and that as Americans we were greedy and selfish and felt entitled to everything.
Of course, I was stubborn and my attitude became, “If you don’t like it, go home.”
But looking back, he was right and I just didn’t want to accept it.
According to a recent Gallop poll, Latin Americans are among the happiest individuals in the world to date, receiving the highest positive emotion scores worldwide. Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela and Trinidad/Tobago ranked 1-5 on the list, respectively, responding 85 percent, 85 percent, 84 percent, 84 percent and 83 percent “yes”, they were happy, when adults were asked how they felt the previous day. Adults were also asked if they laughed, felt well-rested, learned something interesting, felt respected and for how long these feelings lasted throughout the day.
Singapore came in last, with only 46 percent “yes.”
While the United States does not appear on the list, our country ranks somewhere between 55 percent and 81 percent “yes” from the Gallup poll. An average score like this recognizes that America isn’t depressed, but we’re not entirely happy either.
More importantly are the implications of this poll: lo and behold, what people have been saying since pretty much the beginning of time is true, money does not buy happiness.
While it is easy to assume that a higher income means a more positive attitude and more prosperous life, this isn’t statistically true. The United States is a perfect example of this.
Panama ranks 90th in the world with respect to gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, while Singapore ranks fifth. That is what is so surprising to analysts: the two variables appear more or less inversely proportional, and while Singapore is more financially productive, the country’s emotions are more negative.
It was also found that after earning up to $75,000 annual income, individual’s emotions don’t significantly change past this amount.
So as much as I hate to admit it, the United States isn’t the best country in the world anymore. New Zealand ranked No. 1 for best country for business, according to Forbes. IbTimes stated that Norway ranked No. 1for overall GDP per capita. In 2013, Switzerland is the No. 1 place for a baby to be born in order to have a “healthy, safe and prosperous” life, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The United States has been ranking in the teens for a while in nearly every list as we struggle to uphold the American Dream.
Truth is, we are greedy, selfish and feel entitled. That’s why we’re dropping as a country. We’re too concerned about what we don’t have rather than what we do have. It’s not money and “stuff” that’s going to make you happy; it’s the people you’re with, how you spend your time, appreciating what you have and working with the situations you’re given.
Think about it. Do you think Latin America has it all? Definitely not in a material sense. But from the sense that matters, they’ve got it all and that’s impressive.