The Christmas season is a time of reflection and celebration for the One who gave us life, but unfortunately, this season often adds stress to our already stressed out culture. For years, cultural studies have proven again and again that our country is far from happy, and not just during the Christmas season. One of the main pressures Americans feel is financial pressure and job related stress, often times from not making enough or losing a job.
Despite being the richest nation on earth, the United States is, according to the World Health Organization, by a wide margin, also the most anxious, with nearly a third of Americans likely to suffer from an anxiety problem in their lifetime – America the Anxious – NYTimes.com
Other wealthy countries were proven to lack in happiness as well by a recent study. Germany and France tied with Somaliland for 47th place on the list of countries ordered according to positive outlook. The United States ranked 33rd.
Contrastingly in Guatemala, a country less developed and with fewer financial resources than the United States, Germany and France, the people are reported to be some of the happiest in the world. A recent poll places 7 Latin American countries in their 10 top happiest countries in the world.
Some Latin Americans said the poll hit something fundamental about their countries: a habit of focusing on positives such as friends, family and religion despite daily lives that can be grindingly difficult. – Poll says Latin Americans most upbeat – USA Today
Despite the recent study, there are still some critics who warn against reading too much into the findings of this ‘happiness measure’. They warn governments not to overlook the problems facing their country, even though they scored well on positive outlook. There are many problems that face many of the countries that scored highest on the positive outlook scale, and those issues need to be addressed.
It’s a paradox with serious implications for a relatively new and controversial field called happiness economics that seeks to improve government performance by adding people’s perceptions of their satisfaction to traditional metrics such as life expectancy, per capita income and graduation rates. – Poll says Latin Americans most upbeat – USA Today
Even through the evidence on either side of the ‘happiness measure’, it only takes a few days in Guatemala to witness the happiness of the Guatemalan people. Maybe it is true that Guatemalans choose to look past the economic and societal problems to appreciate their family, friends and things that truly matter in their lives; a lesson everyone can learn from.