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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Shiny, happy people' abound

As we entered the 1990s, the band R.E.M. recorded a hit song called Shiny, Happy People, with the refrain: "Shiny, happy people holding hands; shiny, happy people laughing." Apparently, its message holds true as we enter year five of this new century.

A Gallup poll found that most Americans say they're happy: 55 percent are "very happy," 40 percent "fairly happy" and 4 percent "not too happy." It will come as no surprise that 58 percent are "very satisfied" with their life and 30 percent "somewhat satisfied." Just over 10 percent are "dissatisfied" — 7 percent are "somewhat" and 4 percent "very."

Gallup reports little difference among men and women, whites and nonwhites, or young and old — although those in low-
income households and who are unmarried (including divorced and widowed) are generally less happy than their counterparts.

Americans' subjective sense of well-being is at the highest level in 13 readings since 1956 when its polls began, reports Gallup. The 55 percent who say they're "very happy" is slightly up over 49 percent, recorded a year ago.


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