Happiness is hard to quantify. Are there tangible metrics to measure it, or is it a purely subjective emotional state that varies from person to person?
Perhaps it’s impossible to know for certain, but when millions of Americans evidently find happiness so elusive, the topic is worth exploring.
Why Aren’t Americans Happy?
According to the World Happiness Report 2018, the happiest nations in the world are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia, in that order. The U.S. does not appear in that lineup.
In fact, you have to go down to number 18 to find the United States. Despite being able to boast of significant wealth, access to excellent education, and a significant level of freedom, the average American is comparatively unhappy and dissatisfied with his or her everyday life.
It’s a shocking reality we typically ignore. Researchers point to declining life expectancy, increasing inequality, lack of confidence in the government, and chronic stress and anxiety, but larger and more fundamental issues may be in play.
In reality, most Americans don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. They’re subject to self-doubt and prey to low self-esteem.
They feel they don’t measure up to their peers, and experience regular feelings of anxiety and depression. As a result, every other facet of life loses some of its flavor and ceases to confer happiness, vibrancy, and health.
The problem is particularly characteristic of women. According to a study conducted by Dove, 7 in 10 girls believe they aren’t good enough or don’t measure up in some way, whether in looks, performance, or relationships.
Though the percentage of discontented individuals isn’t as high among men, low self-esteem has an undeniably direct impact on their happiness, as well.
How to Feel Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Until the average American feels comfortable in his or her own skin, it may be nearly impossible for the U.S. — as a nation — to become more happy. But if there’s a silver lining to this issue, it’s that satisfaction and self-esteem aren’t as elusive as they might appear.
Here are five simple ways more Americans, including yourself, can feel more comfortable in their own skin.
- Practice Self-Love
We need to stop being so harsh with ourselves. There’s clearly a time to be demanding and push our bodies and minds to the edge, but there are also times when it’s worthwhile to practice self-love.
This is about identifying safe and healthy rituals that make you feel cared for. Whether it entails soaking in a hot tub, going for a walk through a wild setting, or exploring your spirituality, you can derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction from loving yourself for who you are.
- Find Ways to Love Your Body
Everyone has a different physique. Instead of regarding yours as flawed, try to treat your body as one of a kind. Learn to focus on the elements that make you feel pride.
As for the elements of your body that inspire dissatisfaction, perhaps you may discover safe ways to make yourself more comfortable. Shape-wear is an example of a product that empowers the wearer to embrace your body type and look good in the process.
- Surround Yourself With Supportive People
You have nothing to gain — and much to lose — from surrounding yourself with negative people who drag you down and make you feel useless or unloved. You’ll find happiness easier to attain when you surround yourself with supportive people who love and care for you. Assess your social circle and make yourself more open to the right kind of people.
- Establish Greater Work-Life Balance
If you’re spending all of your time working, you’re likely to end up dissatisfied with your personal life. On the other hand, if you spend all your time hanging out with friends, partying, and going on weekend trips, your career achievements will suffer.
At the heart of happiness is a sensible balance between work and life. Be wary of emphasizing one at the expense of the other. Make the proper amount of time for both!
- Embrace Alone Time
In our culture, we’re conditioned to crave stimulation around the clock. Social media has fostered an impulse to be around other people constantly.
But when you study human psychology and what makes us tick, it’s clear that alone time is good for the soul. Learn to embrace time by yourself, and you’ll feel more refreshed and engaged in social situations.
We can all think back to a time in our lives — however fleeting it might have been — where we felt some sort of happiness, joy, satisfaction, and hope. Though it may seem like an uphill climb to return to that condition, it may not actually be that hard.
Happiness isn’t about possessing great wealth, building the perfect body, or landing the ideal job. As the World Happiness Report intimates, there’s little correlation between these items and individual happiness.
Instead, happiness is a state of mind. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and possessing the freedom to express yourself.