I don’t understand why people in the U.S. are so unhappy

american-flagAmerica is one of the top immigration destinations in the world. In fact, there are so many people waiting in line to become legal residents and legal immigrants that the lines will take decades to clear out. America is that popular. We live in the land of opportunity where technology and innovation flourishes. Indeed, Haitians and Cubans brave shark-infested waters just to get to our shores. Mexicans (who by the way, also have a huge national overweight issue) and Central Americans will put up with almost all kinds of atrocities and threats south of the border just to reach America. Our country rewards ambition. Our country provides comfort for the afflicted and enables people with dreams to see their dreams become reality. This is why America is so popular as an immigration destination not just in the Philippines and Mexico but also in the former Soviet Union and China. In addition to economic freedoms, people are free here to become totally new people. We are the land of second chances. With all that said, and I am sure some of you reading this are softly chanting U-S-A when you read this, why are suicide rates so high in America? Put it another way, why are antidepressants and antianxiety medications so popular in the United States? If we have the material means to be happy, why aren’t we, collectively, the happiest nation on earth? Maybe it’s because we need an hunger suppressant to lose weight so we fill happy, who knows.. Studies show that you’ll be much more happier when you exercise. You could, for instance, go running or do as I do: riding bike trips. I just came back last week from a bike trip in the Netherlands (with this company: http://www.hollandcycletours.com/) and it was wonderful. You’ll feel great doing it. Just do it!

The paradox of prosperity and anxiety
There are many poor countries in the world that have very high levels of contentment. This strikes many American observers as strange. They ask: what do you have to be happy about? The truth is, happiness, in many instances is an adaptive response. People are ‘forced’ to be content and happy. Why? There is no other option. Life in many countries where the majority subsists on less than $1 a day is not a bed of roses. Life, to quote Hobbes, is nasty, short, and brutish. This is why many poor countries have the highest levels of contentment and happiness because they are forced to be happy with what they have. They rejoice over the small things. A small meal is a major deal and a cause for thanksgiving. You’ll need some appetite suppressants to lose weight after that though. In some sense, American prosperity boosts levels of anxiety, because we paint ourselves in a corner. We say to ourselves: I better be happier than yesterday or else I am not going to be happy today. I will grow my hair out even if I have hair growth problems. Life doesn’t work that way. You take what you can get because tomorrow you might lose it all when you die. That’s the reality for the rest of the world. Not in America. We are one of the most envied countries in the world because many of he world’s realities don’t apply to us. Instead, we have positioned ourselves at the top of an ever climbing escalator and we won’t take any backwards movements kindly. No wonder we’re miserable. Life doesn’t just go up. It goes down. And many times, you have to hit rock bottom before you can soar to new heights. We can definitely learn a lot about perspective and contentment from people living in the Sub-Saharan regions of Africa.