The Joy of Being Happier Than You

Granted, the national mood isn’t bubbly. But are people as unhappy as you’d guess from the economy’s sorry state? Not by their own telling in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll fielded last month. An advertiser who assumes consumers are wallowing in gloom will be out of sync with lots of them.

When asked how happy they are personally, a majority of respondents said “very happy” (20 percent) or “happy” (36 percent), outnumbering those who said they’re “only somewhat happy” (28 percent) or “not really happy at all” (15 percent). The numbers were quite different, though, when respondents were asked to say how happy they think “most Americans” are today. On this question, just 2 percent said “very happy” and 15 percent “happy,” while a large majority said either “only somewhat happy” (53 percent) or “not really happy at all” (27 percent).

Comparing responses to the two questions, the findings suggest we’ve moved from an age of envy (which isn’t much fun for those doing the envying) to an age of pity (which, truth be told, can be fun for those doing the pitying).