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United States Measured Happiness

Updated on June 16, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I am interested in politics and in the news. It is great to be informed about what is happening in the USA, around the world and history.


What does Happiness Mean to You?

Happiness means different things to different people. Experiencing happiness because we received a raise or lost ten pounds is but an experience, but does that really mean you actually a happy person?

“I feel good emotionally” is a general expression that might be used to evaluate your level of happiness, but does happiness come from money, love, passion, excitement, inspiration for a particular goal, or exactly what? For some people it is actually being calm, peaceful and content. It is very natural to be happy.

The dictionary defines happiness as:

  1. A state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy
  2. Emotions experienced when in a state of well-being.

US Measured Happiness

The Department of Health and Human Services funded a program to measure happiness, which began in December 2012. The goal was to “define reliable measures of subjective well-being.In the past happiness was gauged by the nation's quality of life, which was based on the gross domestic product (GDP). The GDP is the sum of its economic output.

Former President Obama named Alan Kruger as the chairman for the Council of Economic Advisers to study the concept of happiness.

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, explains happiness as the difference between “experiencing self” and “remembering self". Therefore, the assumption is that happiness must be studied to understand how personal experiences lead to a happy life.

Since happiness is really subjective, would it not be very difficult to actually quantify statistics for Americans, who come from a huge variety of cultural backgrounds and individual experiences? Is it the government’s job to figure out who is happy and where they live? Or is this a waste of taxpayer dollars? It seems the United Kingdom is also beginning this type of research, plus France and Canada are considering it.

World Studies on Happiness

Studies on happiness have been completed around the world. Some scientists believe that the GNP or GDP has always been used as a measure of national happiness. Therefore, if this study is successful it could conceivably be used to manipulate poll number or perhaps legislation.

Advocates for the research state a measure of happiness can contribute to evaluating the success or failure in a wide variety of government policies. It is believed that this measurement could gauge whether a health benefit or education is more valuable than, for instance, a higher income. It also proposes to measure how people spend their time between leisure activities and work. Do we really want to share this much information with our government?

Ultimately the United States, while being so prosperous, still measures number ten on the world scale for happiness. The Scandinavian countries rank highest the list.

Framework of Research

The guidelines the researchers used to study happiness included:

  • “Happiness is made up of pleasure, engagement and meaning
  • It involves both positive emotions and a global sense that life is worthwhile
  • People can accurately report their own level of happiness”

The research team by utilizing the above framework learned more “about who is happy, what makes them happy and why.” Yet, some people cannot tell you if they are happy.

Pew Research Survey

Pew Research Center did a survey in 2010, and found that even though the number of married couples has shrunk, 75% of Americans consider their family to be the most important aspect of their personal happiness.

That is taking into consideration that there is a very different definition of what constitutes a family than there was a generation ago. Americans considered the quality and quantity of family time directly related to their happiness.

Some of the research revealed Republicans are 15% happier than Democrates. Older people are 18% happier than younger people.

Does money make people happy?

Well, it sure doesn’t hurt, however, Laura Vanderkam, author of “All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know about Getting and Spending” states we should not focus on budgets or compare ourselves to our friends, but think of money as a tool.

The conclusion from her research revealed that people who are happy feel like they have enough money, even when they are not wealthy. They can get more money if needed but have full control over how their money is spent.

Obviously poor people without enough food and housing problems are not going to be particularly happy. However, wealthy people may have their own set of problems, such as obesity, anorexia, bulimia, adult onset diabetes, various addictions, such as: alcohol, gambling, shopping, TV,

Negative Emotions Produce Unhappiness

Sometimes people are addicted to unhappiness according to David Sack M.D. They absolutely "wallow in their misery", which has many possible causes

If you are experiencing grief, self doubt, depression, anger, boredom, dissatisfaction, shame, guilt, anxiety, stress, sadness, discontent, fear, envy or jealousy, then you are probably not happy as these are negative emotions.

Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Quotes about Happiness

Pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence

  • Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln
  • "If you want to be happy, be." ~Leo Tolstoy
  • "The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." ~Mark Twain
  • "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." ~Berke Breathed
  • "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction." ~Salvador Dali


Valued Times by Americans

Some of the times that are the most valued by Americans are family vacations, talks between a mother and daughter, visits from loved relatives, phone calls with family members, holidays spent together with family and friends and time spent with Grandma and Grandpa.

I have always taken Abe Lincoln’s advice, at least as I have aged. I believe happiness is an inside job, so affirmations and positive thinking are helpful to me. If you need to set boundaries with someone, than do so. If you start feeling bored there is a plethora of hobbies available and some cost very little money.

If you have physical problems that have necessitated a lifestyle change, which is true in my case, fine new and exciting things you are able to complete that will keep you content. Embrace each day like it will be your last on this earth.

Be Happy

Are you happy?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    15 months ago

    Yes, it seemed a lot of money was spent with little to show for it. I suspect that near trillion is going to seem like nothing compared to the Covid-19 spending. I would hate to be right on this one.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    15 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Robert, I didn't know the way they spent money. It does seem like it could be put to a bettter use.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    15 months ago

    You're welcome. One of my jobs was working with a database of over 600 projects that were part of the stimulus package. The lion's share of them gave me the feeling of "what are they doing with my money?" My favorite of these questionable projects was money for an Italian-American heritage museum. There seemed to be similar allocations for every other ethnic museum.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    15 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Robert,

    I think you make a very good point about the use of money. There are many worthy causes. Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Robert Sacchi profile image

    Robert Sacchi 

    15 months ago

    It would be interesting to see how COVID 19 effects the happiness index. I do question if such research should be done with taxpayer's money. Could the money HHS used on this over the have been better spent on finding an effective treatment for coronavirus or a strategy for preventing a pandemic from spreading in the US?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    16 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG,

    I agree that many are saddened for good reason. I wrote this article well before COVID 19. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh emge 

    16 months ago from Singapore

    Pamela, happiness is a state of the mind. I don't know if it can be measured. The present pandemic has saddened many but it can't be helped. Better to be positive about it.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    16 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    I think you are right. Many people are unhappys right now. I appreciate your comments. Happy Mother's Day.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    16 months ago from Houston, Texas

    I am reading this right now amid a worldwide pandemic. I think that a happiness poll if taken today would perhaps be different from when people first voted. So many people are worried not only about health but secure jobs. I guess the trick to happiness is simply to glean what we can out of each day as it presents itself. Share love with people. Look at nature and its wonders. Be grateful. Sending good wishes your way today.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jackie, I think we probably do become overcomers in life. That's a good point. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jools, That's interesting information that I did not know. I appreciate your comments.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    8 years ago from the beautiful south

    The older we get and more life throws at us I think we do have to make an effort to stay happy. I grew up happy and it was just natural but things in life happen we must overcome to obtain that same happiness level. I don't know that it can ever be the same as when life was trouble free but I think it is a must to strive for. My first thoughts were sort of like bravewarrior's but that is just one of those things we can't change so must overcome. lol Great hub. ^

  • Jools99 profile image

    Jools Hogg 

    8 years ago from North-East UK

    Pamela, very interesting hub. The British government did this whole 'happiness project' a couple of years ago and I worked in local government then and working near a team who had been asked to write a happiness 'policy' for the town hall where I worked. We all took the micky out of the team constantly because it seemed like such a waste of government money when, as you say, our young people were looking for jobs. I think we changed governments 'mid-happiness project' so it all got thrown out as an old idea - phew!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    bravewarrior, My attitude is the same as yours regarding government spending. It seems so much money is wasted when people need jobs so badly. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    9 years ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, first I'd like to say I'm a generally happy person, even when life circumstances could dictate otherwise. Secondly, the government would see a happier society (through simple observation, not frivilously spending our tax dollars!) if they used our taxes to create jobs, clean up the streets, provide parks and recreation and stay out of our personal lives!

    Happiness is a state of mind, body and soul. Not a state of government!

    I hope you gain responses on re-introducing this hub. I, too, would hate to see it deleted!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    toknowinfo, I agree with your conclusions and appreciate your comments.

  • toknowinfo profile image


    9 years ago

    Happiness is elusive and can be an illusion so it is hard to measure. Happiness is about our attitudes, our choices, and what we are dealing with at any given moment in time. I don't understand how the government can measure this, or any emotion. But your hub makes for interesting reading and I am glad you shared this info. Voted up and interesting.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Mekenzie, I like that silly song also - its cheerful. I fully agree with your comments and appreciate them. Thank you.

  • Mekenzie profile image

    Susan Ream 

    9 years ago from Michigan

    Hi Pamela, I love the song Don't worry be Happy .. it's such a fun song .. we all need to take a break from being serious and enjoy an escape like singing this song.

    Happiness is a choice - we can choose to let situations drag us down or we can focus on what can be learned or how to be content in all things.

    I liked this quote: "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." ~Berke Breathed It's true! Great Hub, Voted up and useful. Thanks!


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Lesley, I really thought you were a happy person as that is what your wonderful hubs reflect. I also think it quite wasteful. Thank you so much for your comments. Best Wishes to you also.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Pamela, I am generally a happy person, my glass is always 'half full' it sounds as though the government has money to waste!

    Excellent hub and voted up.

    Best wishes Lesley

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    MPG Narratives, You hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your comments.

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Maria Giunta 

    9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Now I've heard it all, the govt spends money on a study on happiness. Of course they're going to say most of us are happy and they must be doing a good job! I'd be happy too if I was being paid to do such a study. Good hub Pamela, voted up and beautiful.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Rosemary, I think you asked a very valid question. I think it is a waste of money also. I appreciate your comments.

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 

    9 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    A great hub Pamela

    What a waste of money, it is impossible to accurately assess happiness. There are just too many varients, happiness levels can change from one minute to the next. I generally a happy person but right now feeling low because we are into our 5th day of rain and gloomy skies.

    It begs the question is this some ploy so the government can come back with 'Well statistics show that 80% of the population are very happy so we must be doing a good job'

    I enjoyed reading your article and it is thought provoking

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    suzettenaples, I am glad to hear you are so happy. Thank you for your comments.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    9 years ago from Taos, NM

    Great hub! I enjoyed reading this. I am a happy person, content, at peace and just being. I think part of it is I have strived for and reached my major goals in life and now I am doing some different things with my life and just basically enjoying life and what everyday brings here in the Florida sunshine. So far, so good.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    bluestar, I agree with you that emotions can vary day to day, and spending money can certainly make you feel good. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  • thebluestar profile image

    Annette Donaldson 

    9 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Well hunnie, this hub gave me a wake up call. I am appalled by the thought of being able to measure happiness on a day to day basis. For goodness sake where did that come from. I do agree that most people will agree that money doesn't grant you happiness, but spending it helps. Great therapy until the bills follow. Happiness is a state of mind, and as such will vary from day to day and events to events. I believe that happiness is an individual emotion that is can be misconstrued. Your hub has certainly sent me running for cover to debate the true meaning. I doubt I will ever find it, as emotions are like a roller coaster, and keep rattling on. Net:)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Om Paramapoonya, I agree. Happiness is more important than money. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    9 years ago

    Very interesting hub! I totally agree with Laura Vanderkam that more money doesn't always lead to more happiness. I used to work an 8-to-5 job and made a pretty good income, but I hated that job with a passion. So basically, I was very bored and somewhat grumpy five days a week. Since I became a freelancer, my income has shrunk by almost 50% but I have also become a much much much happier person.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    anginwu, I think happiness is a state of mind. Many people in CA are having money problems as it is very expensive to live in most areas. I appreciate your comments.

    teaches, Yes, I agree. Thank you for your comments.

    CWanamaker, The things you listed would make me happy also. Thanks for your comments.

  • CWanamaker profile image

    Christopher Wanamaker 

    9 years ago from Arizona

    Very interesting. I believe that the scientists will have hard time quantifying and measuring happiness. There are just too many variables and the human psyche is extremely complex. Perhaps they can come up with "average" or "normal" indicators of happiness but this too would still be very subjective and in no way would represent everyone.

    I can tell you what makes me happy though...its less government combined with common sense legislation and a balanced budget. Great hub, got me thinking a bit about things.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    9 years ago

    You are so right, Pamela, happiness is subjective and hard to measure or define due to this fact. I love your quote posts and the song. Being happy is conditional but also a goal to work towards. Great hub!

  • anglnwu profile image


    9 years ago

    Great inspirational hub. Happiness is a state of mind and sometimes, we can let life with its ups and downs bog us down. I see that the golden state didn't make it to the list of happiest cities--wonder why? Thanks for sharing and voted up.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    drbj, I agree that it is next to impossible to measure happiness as even different cultures find different aspects of life more important. Thanks for your comments.

    incomeguru, I like that quote also. I appreciate your comments.

    Nell, I think it is another waste of taxpayer money. Money can be a worry and I don't think you need a lot of money to be happy but you do want to make ends meet so you aren't worried. Thanks for your comments.

    b. Malin, I like the simple things also. I agree that less government would make us happy. Thanks for your comment.

    acaetnna, I'm happy for you! Thanks for your comments.

    Ruby, Keeping a positive attitude is important to be happy. Thanks for your comments.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    9 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Interesting article..It is difficult to be completely happy when so many are unemployed and the war continues. I basically am a happy person, keeping a positive attitude helps...Thank's for sharing...

  • acaetnna profile image


    9 years ago from Guildford

    A brilliant hub. Yes I am happy, happy when I am in love, which luckily for me is all of the time!

  • b. Malin profile image

    b. Malin 

    9 years ago

    Does this make us HAPPY to think that the government is going to spend more MONEY to study what makes us Happy. NO, it does not! I certainly have to agree with Breakfastpops comments as well.

    Excellent Hub Pamela. I am Happy, it's the little things that make me a Happy Person, and some of it is Free...A Beach to walk on, Good Health, A Wonderful Husband and best friend, my kids (most times) my grand kids (ditto) and LESS GOVERNMENT!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    9 years ago from England

    I tend to be a happy person, but I must admit that when I don't have a lot or even a little money it does bring me down, if I had enough to get by then I would be fine, just going out into the countryside makes me happy, saying that the government needs to study happiness, I think that's such a waste of time, who ever came up with that idea? great hub! cheers nell

  • incomeguru profile image

    Oyewole Folarin 

    9 years ago from Lagos

    Great hub about happiness. All positive thought that comes to my mind makes me happy. I love the quote 'if you want to be happy, be.' Voted up!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    9 years ago from south Florida

    Happiness is entirely a subjective emotion, Pamela, and may vary from one moment to the next, so how can it be accurately measured to provide an index? Impossible to my way of thinking. But then so are so many of our leader's ideas to spend more money! Good luck to the DHHS.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    BPOP, I think that is an excellent suggestion. Thanks for your comment.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    9 years ago

    Very interesting hub. I do believe that happiness comes from within. As for the government wasting our money on investigating happiness, I respectfully suggest that they work on making life less stressful for us by improving the economy and staying out of our business.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    SubRon, It sound like you summed up the bad and the good, but I'm glad you're happy. We all have good and bad things in our lives. I appreciate the comments.

    Debbie Roberts, I agree that sometimes making money doesn't make you happy. I appreciate your comments.

    Lizam, Thanks for your comments. I have no problem with you using the link or information on your blog.

    meloncauli, I agree absolutely. I appreciate your comments.

    Victoria Stephens, I have the same question about what the government will do with the information. I don't like people standing over me telling me what to do either. Thank you for your comments.

  • Victoria Stephens profile image

    Victoria Stephens 

    9 years ago from London

    Hi Pamela99.

    Very interesting article. I'm most happy when I feel that I have complete control over my life and I haven't got someone leaning over me telling me what to do from every direction that I turn.

    I guess I don't mind if the government insists on spending money to find out what makes people happy but I would question 'what are they going to do with the answers? and would they help more people to feel happy?'.

    Thanks for an eye opening write up.x

  • meloncauli profile image


    9 years ago from UK

    Great hub. I was once asked 'Are you happy'? I couldn't answer. I realised I didn't know what happiness was! My interpretation was 'am I content'? Theres a fine line between the words happiness and contented.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Great hub. Is it OK if I share on my blog site Finding Fiji - motivational site to encourage others to grow towards happiness.

  • debbie roberts profile image

    Debbie Roberts 

    9 years ago from Greece

    Having just enough money for what we need, I think is a winner, when coming to happiness. People with masses of money can be on a mission to make even more money and that creates unhappiness or certainly not the contentment that is part of happiness.

    I like the quote by Leo Tolstoy.

    An interesting hub voted up and shared!!

  • SubRon7 profile image

    James W. Nelson 

    9 years ago from eastern North Dakota

    Well, I dunno, Pamela, that's a pretty personal question, maybe even a "trick" question, but, yeah, I'm happy. I'm in debt, I'm mostly bald, I'm short, I have no woman in my life, but I have a good family and I have my health, and just this past week my foster daughter re-connected with me, after over a year of almost no contact--now THAT! made me happy.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    prasetio, I always knew you had a big heart to help others. I appreciate your comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    9 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Very inspiring hub, my friend. Everybody has different character. But I do believe that everything come from the pure heart gave us happiness. The big happiness for me, If I can help more people. Thank you very much. Rated up (useful, awesome and interesting). Cheers...



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