The United States is thought of as one of the happiest countries on Earth. It used to be a place where people came to live happier lives, and the “American Dream.” Therefore, it is alarming to hear that the U.S. is declining in happiness. A study done by Forbes magazine shows that the U.S. has fallen to the 12th happiest country in the world. This is after a few years of falling down the list. There has to be reasons why the U.S. is no longer as happy as it once was, but what could they be. The purpose of this capstone was to find out why the U.S. was declining in happiness when compared to the rest of the world. I wanted to find out how happiness in the U.S. was different from other places in the world. And at the end to take a look back at how this has changed my outlook on happiness.
Before I started this project I knew that the U.S. wasn’t as happy a place as it used to be. Before people would flock to the U.S. because they thought they could live happier lives here, but now it seems as if that mentality is changing. I knew that there were places that weren’t as rich or powerful as the U.S. that were still happier. This didn’t make that much sense because most people would think that there should be a direct connection between these things and a country’s happiness. At the same time I also knew that a country’s happiness was more complicated than just money and power. I was upset that the U.S. wasn’t as happy as other countries, and I wanted to know why.
Through my research on this topic I learned a lot about happiness and its connection with the U.S. As stated earlier, I learned that the U.S. had fallen to 12th on the list of happiest countries in the world. I wanted to look at the happiest country, Norway, to find out why this was the case. I learned that Norway was happy because they have good per-capita GDP, a strong health care system, and, maybe the most interesting, strong trust between people. This idea of strong trust between people leading to a happier country was also true with another one of the world’s happiest countries, Denmark. I found that trust between people was a big factor that separated the U.S. from the happier countries. This led me to think that good relationships between people made people happier than material things. And when this was put on a large scale, it would make entire countries happier. The more I looked at happy countries, the more I found that the U.S. needs to have more trust and better relationships between people to be a happier country again. Research has proven that people are sadder without interaction between other people. In the U.S. we need to stop focusing on ourselves and focus more on helping and building relationships with others. These discoveries also changed my perspective on the topic. I now know that a country’s happiness comes from its people being able to interact well and trust each other. It also showed me that if I want to be happy I have to help others and interact with people more myself.
The most important thing to take away from this topic is that relationships are paramount to a country’s happiness. I discovered this before too, but until now I haven’t realized how important it is. I often go to the country of Armenia with my parents, as it is where my mother grew up. I’ve noticed that people there are very happy even though Armenia has suffered many hardships and isn’t as rich or powerful like the U.S. But the people there just seem happy being with each other, and enjoying everyone’s company. They don’t need TV or fancy electronics to keep them happy like we often do in the U.S. Here I experience firsthand that relationships are the key to happiness, and the rest is secondary. Here I first started wondering how people in the U.S. could be happier, and it played a role in me choosing this topic.
When people here about this topic I hope they understand how important good relationships are. I hope that people in the U.S. realize that to be a happier country we need to value each other more. We need to focus on making others happy to make ourselves happy. I worry that with technological advances people will become more consumed with those things and themselves than anything else. That would be counterproductive towards a happier country. We all need to help people more, and make sure that others are just as happy as ourselves to insure our country as a whole will be happy too.