Dr. Joy: Happiness and Well-Being According to Region

By WEEK Reporter

October 12, 2011 Updated Oct 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM CDT

In Wednesday evening's Ask Dr. Joy: are you satisfied and happy with your life?

Happiness and your well-being may be determined by things you never imagined. No, those who make $200,000 a year and have a 60-inch plasma TV aren't the happiest.

Dr. Joy Miller helps us explore some factors to happiness and evaluate if Americans are the happiest people in the world.

Dr. Joy says the happiest people in the world tend to be those who live in countries where they feel national pride and live in a country where they feel public trust and cooperation.

The happiest people also tend to be the ones who feel satisfied with what they have economically and socially as well as social success and group inclusion.

How do Americans fare compared to the world stage as it relates to happiness? The Danes are the happiest people in the world and meet the qualifications of feeling national pride and feeling satisfied with what they have economically and socially.

Researchers call this 'social capital'.

The Netherlands, Swedes, and Canadians rank highest and Americans fall down the line.

Americans tend to overemphasize fame and fortune and undervalue personal strength and achievements that benefit others (which determine happiness).

Several suggestions Dr. Joy says will help raise happiness and well-being:

* Do things that benefit others rather than simply doing better than others
* Look for activities that create self-respect and positive feelings-- the elements of psychological health
* Focus on the "haves" vs. the "have-nots"
* Spend time doing the things we enjoy, with people we enjoy, and give yourself time to remember and re-create those happy times in your mind.

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