Happy? Not So Much

American happiness hits lowest point since 1972

The percentage of people identifying themselves as "not too happy" in research at the University of Chicago has been growing steadily since 2000, but the highest percent of unhappy Americans -- about 17 percent -- was recorded in 1972.

A recent figure indicates that about 14 percent of Americans say they are "not too happy," according to Tom W. Smith of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.

Smith says it's not about the sinking economy. Happiness levels are more affected by marital status (the hitched are happier) and race (minorities are generally less happy), Smith says.

Happiness levels are also connected to how individuals "deal with whatever pluses or minuses in life hit you,'' Smith said in a Sun-Times article.

Additionally, the paper offers a list of ways to be happier, as posted by Fortune magazine's fortune.com Web site:

• • Dump the Debby Downers: Surround yourself with happier people -- bad attitudes can bring you down.

• • Less tube: Unhappy people watch over 30 percent more TV a day than very happy people. Happy people spend more time socializing, working and having sex.

While it's tough to tell whether activity makes one happier or if happy people are just more active, "leading a more active life is correlated to being happier," says University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson.

• • Set and pursue goals: Goals give people a sense of purpose and tend to cultivate self-esteem.

• • Don't think too much: Obsessing over the unknown can impede concentration and diminish your ability to solve problems.

• • Count your blessings: One study found that subject group members who wrote down five things they were grateful for once a week were happier than study participants who did not.

For the full story, visit the Sun-Times. 

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