Read ’em and Weep

It’s nice to be happy. What we really want, though, is to be happier than others. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll indicates many Americans are in just that happy position—or, at least, imagine they are. First, it asked: “Taking all aspects of their lives into account, how happy do you think most Americans are today?” Just 6 percent of respondents said “very happy”; another 32 percent said simply “happy.” On the gloomy side of the scale,47 percent guessed most Americans are “only somewhat happy,” and 11 percent felt they’re “not really happy at all.” In a country that exalts the pursuit of happiness, these are pretty shabby numbers. But they bear scant relation to the responses elicited when the survey inquired “about you personally.” Then, 23 percent described themselves as “very happy,” with another 45 percent saying they’re “happy.” Fewer than one-third said they’re “only somewhat happy” (24 percent) or “not really happy at all” (7 percent). Perhaps you’ll share my suspicion that some of these happy souls would be vaguely saddened to learn they aren’t (as they suppose) happier than most of their compatriots. But then, even the happiest life has its disappointments.