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America Ranks 15th Happiest Nation in the World and There’s Just No Way That Can Be True

Someone's not being honest.

A pug wrapped in a blanket stares wistfully.

What I’m about to share might not sit right with you, so you need to keep an open mind: Americans are the 15th most happy in the world for 2023.

“But Kate, look around you. Every day has what seems a new fresh hell, how can this be true?!” you might say to me.

Yes, that might be your perception, friend, but apparently, that is not the reality of your fellow Americans. Or at least, the reality of the fellow Americans who participated in the World Happiness surveys. If you really want to drive the nail in the metaphorical coffin, the data for the 2023 survey was compiled and aggregated over a three-year period, and if you feel a sense of dread coming on, it’s warranted. Per The Hill:

Researchers ranked residents’ life evaluations based on a three-year average from 2020 to 2022. They explained their findings based on six factors, including social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. 

The Happiness Report is not one of those “sponsored by ice cream companies” BS reports. Well, it is technically sponsored by an ice cream company (“Unilever’s largest ice cream brand Wall’s”) but it’s published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which is an initiative of the United Nations. It’s actually legitimate and has been published since 2012.

Instead of some light patriotism, which I think a report like this is supposed to make you feel when it’s released, at least when it’s distilled down for an American audience, it just makes me feel angry. I spent 2020, and a good deal of 2021 in almost complete isolation because I had the wonderful foresight to sign an apartment lease in a new city on March 3, 2020 (this sounds like the beginning of a horror movie, right?) and once I got to said new city I had an extremely limited social circle, so I was miserable and alone, in a very tight bubble because it included a toddler and a nonagenarian, neither of whom I wanted to kill with COVID because this was pre-vaccine days. Speaking of which, it was nearly impossible to get the COVID vaccine until early summer 2021 but I had broken my ankle by then (this is more of a me problem than an America problem though) so the fact that during this data aggregate period, our country’s rankings rose because Germany got less happy means that some of us were doing just fine and dandy. (Or maybe the German participants were just way more honest.)

I want to know who were the people who were happy during this time?! I was objectively miserable, and I can still see how my mental health is not OK! Every time I leave my apartment I think I’m going to burn it down by leaving a candle burning, and I do not burn candles! This is wholly irrational because there is still a part of me that thinks I’m not really supposed to or allowed to, leave my home and go have some fun!

I think I have blocked out that for a large part of this country, there never really was a lockdown, was there? While I was wearing a mask everywhere, socially distancing, and only leaving my home for essentials; elsewhere people were basically licking doorknobs and acting like it was 2019 every night. On the one hand, damn. I wish that was me. On the other hand, f*ck you, America is the worst group project ever, and this World Happiness Report data really just proves it, doesn’t it!? Some people’s happiness really didn’t suffer at all during a period when at least 1.1 million Americans died of COVID.

Per the report, our collective happiness rating dipped by basically nil. “Despite its rise in the ranking, the United States’ average life evaluation fell slightly from 6.977 out of 10 in 2022, to 6.894 in 2023,” writes The Hill. 

I got nothing.

If you’re wondering what the happiest country in the world is according to the report? Finland. Who by the way, have a cumulative COVID death toll of 8,967 according to the WHO. Do with that information what you will. I’m standing by my assertion that America has some great people, and some truly terrible ones, but hey at least we’re the country with the most billionaires! Excuse me while I go cry, now.

You can read the full World Happiness Report here.

(featured image: Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst)

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Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and politics for five years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She has probably seen Cliffhanger more times than you. Team Edward 4-Eva.