Monday, March 7, 2011

Gallup Poll and Happiness

I wrote about happiness recently but I'm going to write about it again. Some days ago my daughter told me she had answered a Gallup poll questionnaires about happiness and that she felt her answers may have been only partially correct as they were really off the cuff -- quick answers to quick questions. This made us wonder about the validity of the poll's results -- a question we both had anyway. Doesn't understanding of your emotional state take more than a top of the head reply to a set of questions? I have the profoundest skepticism about every sort of "epidemiological" research result -- that X% of people who drink green tea are X% healthier than drinkers of coffee, that sort of thing.

Anyway, the Sunday NYTimes had a half page of the Editorial Section on the most recent Gallup poll results about Americans and happiness. It became confusing whether the article was about "happiness" or "well being". Well being seems to be equated to family income -- usually at least $60,000 per individual per year. The map of the US with the article showed that we, here in Cape Cod, were among the most "comfortable." Duh! Those of us who live here know this is an affluent area. We know we have homeless and unemployed, we know there are social problems [like a drug-reated murder about a mile away from here last weekend]. But the people I see socially are affluent. I am about to work on my income tax statement this evening and I can see by the numbers that I am not in the affluent group -- and yet, because of circumstances I won't go into, in fact, I am affluent both financially and emotionally. Furthermore I am happy. But I am not happy because of affluence and thus I belie the conclusions of the Gallup people. I am healthy, I am a senior citizen who is at ease with the life I have lived and the life I am living. I am eager to get up every morning and do the things I have in mind to do that day. Most of them are creative expressions do not cost much money.

Frankly, I do not believe in polls. I think most of them exist for business reasons and most of those reasons have to do with commerce -- what can someone sell me. That doesn't cut much mustard with a senior, although it seems to be important to those who are younger ... but maybe not to my daughter who was only one of several million the Gallup people talked to. Happiness is a personal definition not a conglomerate of however many numbers of interviews. Ant it actually doesn't have a dollar figure attached.

3 comments:

Kass said...

So many polls and studies seem to be aimed at making us feel less than confident about how we're leading our lives.

I'm more interested in your optimistic statements about your life.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- all stats are biased. Happiness is a buzz word right now -- used mostly by marketeers. Just live, I say, adapt, ride the roller coast of life -- know and be at home with yourself. Good post. -- rambling barbara

Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

I too being a senior citizen, elder or old lady will never believe in polls. I am comfortable, fairly healthy (working on that part)financially doing okay. What more can you possibly want. Being happy just a "state of the mind" and only you know whether you are or not.