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Syrians, Lebanese among least happy people in world

WASHINGTON: Despite trying times, most people around the world are experiencing great levels of positive emotions, but Syrians’ happiness is at an all-time low for any country, according to a newly published Gallup poll.

Even though the conflict and other unrest dominate much of the news, at least seven in 10 adults worldwide report experiencing enjoyment, laughing or smiling a lot, feeling well-rested and being treated with respect, while a slight majority (51 percent) report that they had learned or done something interesting the day before.For the second year in a row, the country with the lowest positive emotions is Syria, with a score of 36 on the index. This marks an all-time low for any country Gallup has measured. Fewer than one in three Syrians report feeling well-rested (31 percent), feeling enjoyment (31 percent) or having learned or done something interesting (25 percent) the day before.

Lebanon had an overall score of just 56 on the index, ranking relatively low, below most countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as the West and tying with Tunisia.

Gallup measured each of these positive emotions in 138 countries in 2013 by asking people whether they had experienced such feelings the previous day. Gallup compiles the “yes” results into a Positive Experience Index score for each country.

Of the 10 countries in the world with the highest percentages experiencing the categories of positive emotions, all but one of them is in Latin America. For the third year in a row, Paraguay led the world in happy feelings, with Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Ecuador rounding out the top five in 2013. That so many people are reporting happiness in Latin America at least partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life.

Denmark made its second appearance on the Positive Experience Index top 10 list in 2013, after tying for ninth in 2010. Denmark is notable because except for one year, it has always been No. 1 with respect to to the percentage of people who rate their lives positively enough to be considered “thriving.”

Bhutan, the country known for its Gross National Happiness Index, was included in the Gallup world poll for the first time in 2013. Two in three Bhutanese responded positively to the index items, making it 82nd out of the 138 countries. A lack of respect may be keeping the overall score low. Less than half (47 percent) of Bhutanese said they were treated with a great deal of respect – the lowest percentage of all countries measured in 2013. On the other hand, Bhutan is No. 1 when it comes to feeling well-rested (88 percent).

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with about 1,000 adults in each country, aged 15 and up, conducted in 2013.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 22, 2014, on page 13.
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Summary

Despite trying times, most people around the world are experiencing great levels of positive emotions, but Syrians' happiness is at an all-time low for any country, according to a newly published Gallup poll.

Even though the conflict and other unrest dominate much of the news, at least seven in 10 adults worldwide report experiencing enjoyment, laughing or smiling a lot, feeling well-rested and being treated with respect, while a slight majority (51 percent) report that they had learned or done something interesting the day before.For the second year in a row, the country with the lowest positive emotions is Syria, with a score of 36 on the index.

Fewer than one in three Syrians report feeling well-rested (31 percent), feeling enjoyment (31 percent) or having learned or done something interesting (25 percent) the day before.

Gallup measured each of these positive emotions in 138 countries in 2013 by asking people whether they had experienced such feelings the previous day. Gallup compiles the "yes" results into a Positive Experience Index score for each country.


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