Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Happy Days

What percentage of Americans feel happy on an average day? The answer to that question is 48 percent, according to 2012 data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

On a daily basis, Gallup is in the field asking a representative sample of adults how they felt yesterday. Did they experience "a lot of happiness/enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry" (happy), or did they feel "a lot of stress/worry without a lot of enjoyment/happiness" (unhappy). From year to year, the proportion of Americans who feel happy on an average day shows surprisingly little variation. In the years 2008 through 2012, the figure ranged from a low of 47.4 percent in 2009 to a high of 49.1 percent in 2011. The percentage who feel unhappy on an average day also varies little, ranging from a high of 11.7 percent in 2009 to a low of 10.7 percent in 2011.

Another way to look at the data is by counting the number of days in a year on which the percentage of people who feel happy is below 40 percent. That number has ranged from a high of 14 days in 2008 to a low of 2 days in 2011. Last year, there were only 3 such days: February 16, November 29, and December 14—the day of the Newtown massacre.

Source: Gallup, In U.S., Newtown Shooting One of Least Happy Days of 2012

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