US Drops Out Of Top 20 Happiest Countries

The United States has fallen out of the world’s top 20 happiest countries.

The World Happiness Report revealed the US fell from number 15 to number 23, putting it out of the top 20 for the first time since the report was published in 2012.

“Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise to me that the United States is no longer among the world’s 20 happiest countries. The drop from number 15 to 23 is a harsh reminder of the chronic stress and sense of fragmentation that is rife in the United States,” Carla Marie Manly, PhD a clinical psychologist based in California told Theravive.

“Prior to the pandemic, many people were struggling with feeling isolated; the pervasive sense of loneliness worsened substantially during the pandemic and continues in the post-pandemic world. The lack of genuine interpersonal connection—partly driven by technology-laden world—is a key factor in the decline of Americans’ levels of happiness.”

The report found that since 2010, happiness levels among those aged 15 to 24 has fallen significantly in North America. The younger generation is now less happy than the older generation.

“Teens and young adults have been hit very hard by the constant stress in today’s world. Unlike those who grew up in happier, more connected times, those in the 15 – 24 age group have grown up in a world reeling from major issues such as the 9/11 disaster, global warming, divisive American politics, increasing global stress, financial stressors, and the toxic effects of social media,” Manly said.

“Although technology itself is not to blame, it is our use of technology that is a major source of mental health decline. We now have a generation of teens and young adults whose brains have been hardwired to engage in happiness-depleting behaviors such as cyber-bullying, doom-scrolling, school pressures, and toxic comparisons on social media. It’s important to note that those in the younger end of the 15-24 age group will likely be more affected by issues such as social media, school stressors, and interpersonal issues whereas those in the older segment of this group are more likely to be negatively impacted by financial, global, and political issues coupled with interpersonal life stressors.”

Finland came in first as the happiest country in the world for the seventh year in a row. Denmark came in second while Iceland, Sweden and Israel made up the rest of the top five happiest countries in the world.

Other countries to feature in the top 10 include The Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Australia.

The report found that both age and generation were factors in happiness in much of the world.

Those born prior to 1965 scored higher for happiness than those born after 1980. For millennials, life satisfaction drops with each year of age whilst boomers experience an increase in life satisfaction as they age.

Manly argues regardless of age and location, it is important people take steps to improve their satisfaction with their life.

“On both individual and societal levels, it’s important for people to feel optimistic about their lives. When our lives are filled with love, hope, and personal meaning, we feel positive and want to participate in life itself. Conversely, when our lives are filled with nothing but to-do lists, stressors, and endless pressure, we become anxious and exhausted. The world doesn’t need more over-achieving, highly stressed young people; the world does need more young people who feel safe, secure, and strong. We don’t always need to be happy, but we do want to have a baseline where individuals feel good about being alive.  When individuals in a society feel generally good and positive about their lives, that society will tend to flourish,” she told Theravive.

“If you feel unhappy with your life, the first step is to ascertain the root cause or causes of that unhappiness. The next step is to list the changes that might be of help in fostering positive change. The third step is to create actionable steps for change; this list can have specific macro goals supported by clearly stated micro goals that support the macro goal. The fourth step is to begin to take action to create change—one small step at a time. All too often we make happiness the goal, but a sense of meaning/purpose and a reduction in stress tend to create lasting inner joy.” 

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