They Say We’re Happier Now Than in 2019. Really?
Supposedly, the United States has grown happier since Covid. Or so claim the authors of the recently released 2022 World Happiness Report.
Happiness, of course, is a notoriously slippery concept, the meaning of which has been the subject of philosophical debate ever since humans surpassed the food, water, shelter rung on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Indeed, in my day-to-day life, my personal experience resonates with some of the results from the annual report, which shows the United States ascending from the 19th to 16th happiest country in the world over the past few years. (That we rank number one for GDP and 16th for happiness is another topic for another time.)
Some of my newfound happiness is a direct result of slowing down during Covid, getting a chance to catch my breath. While my social circle shrank considerably, I spent more time with family and extended family, and I still found creative ways to gather with my few friends who know me beyond potluck and birthday party small talk.
I realized that I don’t really need that many people in my life to be happy. That for me, a proud introvert, the depth of my relationships has always mattered more than the breadth.
With weekends free of social obligations and two kids who were finally old enough to do some real walking, we started taking family hikes every weekend. Rain or shine. We discovered the beautiful simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other, together, against backdrops of babbling water and amidst the soothing embrace of evergreens.
I learned what I’d known intuitively for years but never fully articulated — that walking in nature with people I love instantaneously transports me to my Happy Place.
What truly matters? It’s a question that the last few difficult years have brought into sharper focus, and it’s a question I’ve started applying to nearly every aspect of my life.
Does it really matter to me to “advance my career,” whatever that means? Do I truly care that the hardwood floors in the kitchen don’t match the hardwood floors in the living room? Is it worth the effort to…