Why Are Americans Unhappy?

  • Posted on: 11 November 2008
  • By: mokshalom

I saw this online message recently. I took out the political stuff but wanted to share the basic gist of it:

The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ‘What are we so unhappy about?’

A. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?

B. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?

C. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?

D. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

E. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state.

F. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

G. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.

H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

I. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.

J. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family, and your belongings.

K. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.

L. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

M. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?

Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

The author blames the media for American unhappiness...I would go further and suggest that it's precisely the materialism that we take for granted that leaves a hole in our hearts...what do you think?


We have too much of everything. What's out there for us to want grows exponentially, seemingly by the hour. It makes it impossible to be appreciative of what we have. Instead we want more-- bigger tv's, bigger cars, bigger houses. We no longer want to keep up with the proverbial Jones's, we have to demolish and crush the competition by having 'better'. And so many people are miserable for it.

"It's not having what you want. It's wanting what you've got."

Night closed my windows and
The sky became a crystal house
The crystal windows glowed

From The Plough of Time, Ferlinghetti

I think the unhappiness is due to a flaw in the human condition.
Most people on earth struggle to become wealthy, and this hides their underlying problems.
Those who are already wealthy have nothing left to struggle for. They should try to resolve their problems, but that is difficult and unappealing.

It's the same thing whether we appreciate something new, or take for granted something old. It's the same force driving us forward. It just happens that in the west we've reached a plateau. There's no one to compete with, no new technology that we can't afford. It's stagnation.

So I agree that it's materialism, but go one step further and say it's human nature.