United States Map

Do you Live in the Happiest City or State?

If happiness is a state of mind, then where you live may make your trip to bliss a little bit easier. Since the place you call home is where you most likely spend a great deal of your time, it would be nice if that city or state also contributed to your well-being. Research suggests that living in certain locations and environments can make you happier for a variety of reasons, including greater access to green and blue spaces, strong social support systems, more opportunities for physical activity, higher levels of education and economic stability. As a whole, the United States regularly ranks around the 15th happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. But there are cities and states within the country that rank higher than others in happiness, giving residents living in those areas the opportunity to greater life satisfaction. The Happiest Cities and States in America  WalletHub, an online personal finance company, regularly ranks both the happiest cities and states in America. Their methodology for these lists includes three key categories to determine the results, including emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. According to Wallethub, their analysis is based on a mix of existing research from some of the leading studies in positive psychology as well as data compiled from a variety of sources, such as the 2024 U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Free to Be Happy in Fremont WalletHub’s Happiest Cities in America list shows which of the largest cities in the U.S. had happier people. Fremont, California was named the happiest city in the country for the fifth consecutive year. Located in the Bay Area, residents of Fremont enjoy more than 1200 acres of green spaces, parkland and other outdoor amenities which provide plenty of opportunities for exercise and relaxation.  Other factors include a friendly place to raise a family, low divorce rates, and low unemployment. A few other Bay Area cities that made the list include San Jose (3) and San Francisco (7). Here are the top ten happiest cities in the U.S. according to WalletHub: Fremont, CA Overland Park, KS San Jose, CA Madison, WI Irvine, CA Honolulu, HI San Francisco, CA Pearl City, HI Columbia, MD Scottsdale, AZ You’ll Find More Joy in Utah While multiple cities in California made the ‘Happiest Cities’ list, it isn’t the happiest state, at least according to WalletHub. In the Happiest States in America list, released by WalletHub in September of 2023, Utah ranks No. 1. Using the same factors as the ‘Cities’ list, Utah is also the top state in the country for providing a great work environment, having the lowest divorces rates and high volunteer rate, which all contribute to greater well-being. Utah Hawaii Maryland Minnesota New Jersey Connecticut California Florida Idaho Nebraska
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The latest research in the science of well-being for maintaining the good life.

Finding Happiness in Health

Happier people tend to engage in healthier behaviors, thus contributing to a longer life; it is hard to have one without the other. We are staying on top of the latest research into the science of happiness to bring to you the best practices to keep your mind and body happy and healthy. Rest Easy According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three Americans lacks adequate sleep on a regular basis, and that’s not good news for our health. Lack of proper sleep can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and mental fatigue. But, new research suggests we may be getting better at it. A study published in the journal Sleep shows that sleep durations have been improving on weekdays and weekends for more than a 14-year period. A few reasons for the uptick in ZZZs are that people are watching less TV and reading less before bed. Plus, banking, shopping and working online frees up more time the hit the hay early. Life Unplugged In a recent study published in the journal Emotion, the psychological well-being in America’s youth decreased after 2012. What is creating all this sadness? One answer is technology. Teens who spent more time with their devices and less time on device-free activity (sports, studies and face-to-face social interaction) felt a decline in their personal happiness. The solution to this problem isn’t necessarily quitting cold turkey. Researchers find that the happiest teens use their devices less than one hour a day. More than an hour of use increases unhappiness. Pay Attention It’s no secret that exercise can stave off physical decline as we age. The same is true for exercising our minds. Recent brain studies uncovered a few ways for us to practice keeping our minds sharp and focused. According to researchers from the University of Exeter, people who do daily crossword puzzles can strengthen their cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning and attention. For a less challenging approach, a longitudinal study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement shows that regular meditation rituals also improve attention span, focus and can fight off cognitive decline later in life. Gotta Have Faith In a study that scoured obituaries nationwide, researchers from the psychology department at Ohio State University found that people with more religion in their lives lived almost four years longer than people who did not. While the exact reasons for lengthier lives is not known, the study suggests many people who practice religion stay socially active, refrain from riskier behaviors, such as drinking and smoking, practice stress reducing rituals such as prayer or meditation and volunteered more, which are all activities that lead to happier and healthier lives.
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Portrait Scandinavian woman holds the flag of Finland in the background on the premises of the cafe.

Finland Named the World’s Happiest Country — Again

Despite a year of pain, suffering and uncertainty, annual World Happiness Report shows a growth in kindness. Finland is still the happiest country in the world. That’s according to the 2022 World Happiness Report, which is released each year by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This is the fifth consecutive year that Finland has taken the top spot in the report, which ranks countries according to national happiness in addition to reporting on specific areas of happiness and well-being. Once again, Nordic countries fared well, with five landing in the top 10: Finland Denmark Iceland Switzerland The Netherlands Luxembourg Sweden Norway Israel New Zealand Closer to home, the U.S. moved up from its No. 19 position last year to the No. 16 spot this year, while Canada dropped to 15th place — a substantial fall, the report authors noted, from its No. 5 position in 2012. Two countries that have been top of mind around the world recently — Russia and Ukraine — both landed in the bottom half of the world happiness rankings, at No. 80 and 98, respectively. The rankings were compiled before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the analysts will follow how the situation affects not only those two countries but disrupts the global level of happiness. Of the least happy countries, Zimbabwe, Lebanon and Afghanistan ranked last. A 10-Year Retrospective This is the 10th anniversary of the report, and its authors used this as an opportunity to look at how public interest in happiness has evolved over the past decade. However, during the report’s release on Friday, Jon Clifton of Gallup noted that they have been compiling data on happiness for 17 years. “Experts have figured out how to count everything, but nobody was tracking how people feel,” he said. “So, we set out to quantify how much anger they feel. How much sadness. How much stress people feel.” The findings over the years have been both useful and eye-opening. Clifton noted that this year’s data indicates that stress, sadness, anger, and worry have reached a record high. “All five of those have been rising for 10 straight years,” he said. “So, as we celebrate the International Day of Happiness, don’t forget the people who are unhappy.” Prosocial Behaviors Prevail One of the most positive findings of the report was that prosocial behavior increased globally from 2020 to 2021. Using donations, volunteering, and helping strangers as metrics, researchers found that around the world, we became more willing to help one another. Although this prosocial behavior occurred at different levels or in different ways, depending on the region, every region showed some sort of increase — often at “remarkable rates not seen for any of the variables we have tracked before and during the pandemic,” report authors noted. John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia and one of the authors of the report, said that areas where people had a greater feeling of trust in their government officials and in their communities were better able to weather the negative effects of the pandemic. That’s consistent with findings of studies that have shown communities with high levels of trust tend to show more resilience during such crises as tsunamis, earthquakes, accidents, and storms. “The places where trust was high fared better during COVID. It was people who were reaching out, and who were seeing others reach out,” Helliwell said, emphasizing the role this played in offsetting the drumbeat of bad news played out through the news media. “Life evaluations continue to be strikingly resilient in the face of COVID-19, and the pandemic of benevolence was one of the supporting factors.”
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Two happy finish women holding Finland flags

Finland Remains the World’s Happiest Country

For the fourth consecutive year, Finland was named the happiest country in the world in the 2021 World Happiness Report. The annual report, released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks countries according to national happiness in addition to providing in-depth reports on specific areas of happiness and well-being. The United States dropped one more spot in the rankings, from No. 18 last year to the 19th spot for 2021. Five years ago, the U.S. ranked 13th. The lowest-ranking countries were Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan. The World Happiness Report has been produced every year since 2012 and uses data gathered by the Gallup World Poll. This year’s editors are John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang. While introducing the report during a workshop on Saturday, March 20 — the International Day of Happiness — Sachs noted that 2020 presented “the strangest year in producing the World Happiness Report.” “We were trying to understand and monitor in real-time incredibly complex challenges and changes,” he said. “The impacts of COVID-19 have differed so widely across different groups in society.” He added that as the pandemic continues unfolding, the report provides an analysis and snapshot of a complicated story. Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 This year’s report looked specifically at how the global coronavirus pandemic affected happiness and well-being around the globe. Not surprisingly, survey respondents reported their mental health was affected by COVID-19, and that decline was seen around the world. The UK, for example, reported a 47% increase in mental health problems. Globally, women, young people, and poorer populations were hit harder by the pandemic. The problem was exacerbated by the disruption of mental health services in many countries just when they were needed most. However, report authors noted, the positive effect is that more attention is being given to mental health and this increased awareness could pave the way for more research and better mental health services. One of the biggest impacts on happiness and well-being has been the lack of social connection during COVID-19. Due to physical distancing, lockdowns, and self-isolation, people had fewer opportunities to connect with others. Feelings of connectedness to others were related to levels of happiness, and when less social support was available, loneliness increased and happiness fell. In many cases, digital connections — such as Zoom — provided a way to stay less isolated, and that was reflected by the lower levels of happiness in people without proper digital connections. Other factors that further diminished happiness were prior mental illness and a sense of uncertainty about the future. Gallup’s Jon Clifton noted that loneliness has been greatly exacerbated by lockdowns: “Right now, over 300 million people in the world — that’s the same size as the United States — do not spend a single hour with a single friend.” Some of the practices found to offset loneliness and help people cope were gratitude, grit, volunteering, previous social connections, exercise, and having a pet. Work and Well-being Work and its effect on happiness has been widely studied, and in 2020, the results around the globe were similar. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of Oxford University led a team of scholars to look at how COVID-19 affected work and well-being and discovered that as unemployment rose, the effects were “devastating.” That was true regardless of income levels, global location, or gender, and resulted in a 10-30% drop in well-being, depending on the situation. “At the start of the pandemic, 50% fewer jobs were being posted,” De Neve said. “As unemployment rose, job postings dropped. Not having a job or falling unemployed during a pandemic, mixed with half as few jobs available, is a toxic mixture.” As people became unemployed, their loneliness escalated. “There was about a 40% further impact on a person’s well-being if they didn’t have social support to rely on. People who [already] felt lonely were doubly impacted by losing their social networks at work.” During the pandemic, supportive management and job flexibility became more important drivers of happiness at work, while such factors as purpose, achievement, and learning at work became less important. However, a sense of belonging, trust, and support remained unchanged, which De Neve said indicated that what makes workplaces supportive of well-being in normal times also makes them more resilient in hard times. “Many more lessons can be learned from this on the future of work and how to build back happier,” he said.
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Kids in goggles for science experiment

Celebrate Character Day

Sign up and join the global movement on Wednesday, September 26th, to celebrate the fifth annual Character Day! Last year there were more than 133,000 events in 150 countries. Thousands of schools, companies, museums, libraries and homes—anywhere people already gather—screen films on the science of character development from different perspectives, dive into free printed discussion materials catered to different ages, and join an online global Q&A conversation. Prominent positive psychologists and education experts will discuss the importance of developing character strengths (resilience, grit, empathy, courage, kindness)—all rooted in evidence-based research. Character Day is one day. The resources are available year-round. Please watch this 1 minute trailer and sign up today!
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Philippines chalk drawing

Earth Day is Every Day in the Philippines

The Philippines, a country of beautiful scenic islands, unique emerald rice fields, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smoldering volcanoes and happy, hardworking and generous people, is unlike any other nation in the world. The beautiful mixture of culture and tradition unites thousands of islands into one shared and increasingly vulnerable land. The archipelago’s geography lends itself to extreme weather. With an increase in deadly typhoons in recent years and rising sea levels, any discussion about well-being or happiness returns to the topic of protecting the Earth to ensure future generations can enjoy nature’s benefits and not suffer as greatly from disasters. The Philippines’ Climate Change Commission emphasized the critical importance of both well-being and environmental protection as they unveiled their Happiness Wall at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the senate house in Manila, Philippines, just a few weeks ago on March 20. Climate Change Commissioner Rachel S. Herrera, said, “As we celebrate the International Day of Happiness today, let us keep in mind that the more we preserve and treat our environment with kindness, the more we ensure our well-being and security as a nation.” Senator Loren Legarda, chairwoman of the Philippines’ Climate Change Committee, is working to adopt a policy similar to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than Gross National Product (GDP) to reflect the happiness and well-being of Filipinos. The goal is to pursue a holistic development of their country to boost equality and environmental protection amid threats of climate change and increased risk of disaster. The panel’s efforts to connect happiness and environmental sustainability in the Philippines strives to create positive effects in many ways. The Live Happy article, “Can Happiness Save the Planet?” cites the Happy Planet Index’s conclusion that societies that practice sustainability are shown to be happier than their less environmentally minded counterparts. The global measurement standard multiplies an index of life satisfaction and the life expectancy average of each country’s residents, then divides that by the ecological footprint of the country. Results consistently show that residents with a smaller ecological footprint register greater levels of happiness, satisfaction and well-being.
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Mo Gawdat of Google

World Happiness Summit Delivers Joy

The International Day of Happiness arrived ahead of schedule in Miami with the second annual World Happiness Summit, or WOHASU. An estimated 600 people from 35 countries gathered at the University of Miami’s Shalala Student Center for three days of speakers, music and yoga—and to share their #HappyActs on the Live Happy Happiness Wall. “To see people coming from more countries than last year and to see everyone happy has been wonderful,” said Karen Guggenheim, founder and CEO of WOHASU. “It’s all about teaching people a sustainable happiness practice.” Listen to our podcast interview with Karen. In 2012, the United Nations officially named March 20 the International Day of Happiness, and since 2013, Live Happy has encouraged people to create “Happiness Walls,” where people could post a card that explained how they celebrated happiness. This year, Live Happy founders Jeff Olson and Deborah K. Heisz set a goal of having 500 walls worldwide—and surpassed that number by 200, including the wall prominently located at the Miami summit. With attendees from such countries as France, Costa Rica, Portugal and South Korea, the event brought different cultures together under the umbrella of happiness. “I am so thankful to find an event like this,” said Sonia Navarro, who recently moved to Miami from Los Angeles. “It’s confirmation. I always tend to choose happiness, but this reminds me how beautiful it is to feel both the happy times and the sad times. This has been a great experience and everyone is super positive.” Examining Happiness Each day of WOHASU began with early morning yoga classes before moving inside for a full day of speakers such as Tal Ben-Shahar, Fred Luskin, Lord Richard Layard and Michael Steger examining such topics as the state of happiness, the role of forgiveness and the importance of purpose and meaning. Panel sessions looked at the relationship of art and happiness, how to create a happier world and the importance of happiness in the workplace, while breakout sessions gave attendees the opportunity to take a closer look at topics they were interested in exploring. Each day wrapped up with musical performances, and Stefan Sagmeister held a screening of his movie, The Happy Film, on Friday night. For more from Stefan about his film, listen to our podcast. One Billion Happy Mo Gawdat, former chief business officer for Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy, not only talked about the role of happiness in the workplace, but also announced his new initiative, One Billion Happy, which he officially launched on March 20 in conjunction with the International Day of Happiness. One Billion Happy is Mo’s mission “to help 1 billion people become happier…so that together we can create a small-scale pandemic of joy.” “Happiness seems to be the biggest need in the modern world,” he explained. “I’m not a dreamer. One billion happy people is not more difficult than a billion users on Facebook or a billion users of a search [engine]. It’s not that difficult.” Through prioritizing happiness and teaching a message of compassion and tolerance, he said he believes the world can become happier. “If we want the world to be better, the only thing we have to do is behave better,” he said. Karen said that this year’s WOHASU was a reminder of how the world is embracing happiness and learning about how to tap into it. “I think the biggest thing people are learning here is to choose happiness,” she said. “You get to decide what mindset you’ll have under any given circumstance. Happiness really is a choice.”
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Finland is the happiest country

Strong Finnish

If you want to find your happy place, you might want to consider Finland. The nation has replaced Norway as the happiest country in the world as ranked by the annual World Happiness Report, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The report is released every year as the world celebrates United Nations' World Happiness Day. Using six key variables—income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust—the report measures the overall well-being of the residents of 156 countries. Included under the umbrella of “trust” is the absence of corruption in business and government. The 2018 report, released March 14, shows last year’s winner, Norway, sliding into second place, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. America, which has yet to make it into the top 10, had its worst ranking since the report began in 2012. This year, the United States ranks 18th in the World Happiness Report, compared to 14th last year. Restoring American Happiness The report notes that Americans have noted a decline in happiness over the past decade. This year, although the U.S. improved in areas of income per capita and life expectancy, Americans reported feeling that they have less social support, less sense of personal freedom and a heightened perception of corruption in business and government. The U.S. also declined in generosity, with lower amounts donated. Jeffrey Sachs, Ph.D., an economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the authors of the report, also wrote a chapter called “Restoring American Happiness,” which looks at how the U.S. has declined in the area of happiness and how it can improve. The report notes that America “is in the midst of a complex and worsening public health crisis” characterized by opioid addiction, an obesity epidemic and a severe depressive disorder “that are all remarkable by global standards.” His findings also conclude that America needs to change its course of action to restore its sense of well-being. “The country is mired in a roiling social crisis that is getting worse,” Jeffrey writes in the report. “And the prescriptions for faster growth—mainly deregulation and tax cuts—are likely to exacerbate, not reduce social tensions.” He reports that additional tax cuts will increase inequality and lead to greater social and economic divides “between those with a college degree and those without.” However, he also notes that changes can be made through programs such as positive psychology and wellness initiatives in schools, workplaces and the community to help individuals change their behavior and boost well-being. “The challenge of well-being is a matter both of high politics and economics and the sum of individual and community-based efforts,” he concludes. Migrating Toward Happiness Much of this year’s report focused on the happiness of immigrants and the happiness consequences of migration. The report found that when immigrants move to a new country, they tend to be about as happy as the locals in the country they relocated to. Their happiness also depends on where they are moving from, however; if they came from a less happy country, while they may become happier in their new home, they typically end up being somewhat less happy than those who were born there. One final factor influencing their happiness is how accepting the local population is to immigrants, although other risks to happiness include being separated from loved ones or comparing themselves to others in their adopted homeland who have more money or possessions. “In general, those who move to happier countries…will gain in happiness, while those who move to unhappier countries will tend to lose,” the report concluded. “Immigration will continue to pose both opportunities and costs for those who move, for those who remain behind, and for natives of the immigrant-receiving countries.” Celebrate World Happiness Day with Live Happy this year. Go to happyacts.org to learn more about hosting or attending a Happiness Wall near you! The World’s Happy Places The 2018 World Happiness Report ranks these countries as the happiest in the world. Rankings are evaluated based on levels of income, life expectancy, social connections, generosity, freedom and trust. Finland Norway Denmark Iceland Switzerland Netherlands Canada New Zealand Sweden Australia
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Young woman looking at her phone with irritated look on her face.

Is Facebook Making Us More Jealous?

A friend posts a picture of himself standing in the front row of the Adele concert. Do you feel happy for him? Or are you instantly gripped with a sense of jealousy? If you leaned toward jealousy, you are not alone. Envy has been around since the beginning of time, and it’s something all of us have felt at one time another. Whether it’s over a friend’s new car or a co-worker’s promotion, none of us are completely immune to twinges of jealousy. But while jealousy has been around long before social media, there’s no question that Facebook, Instagram and the like have created new ways to exploit and trigger our envious side. Jealousy is a normal human emotion, and we may never be able to stop feeling it,” says Richard W. Sears, Ph.D., director of the Center for Clinical Mindfulness & Meditation in Cincinnati. “However, if we ruminate about it, it tends to grow and grow.” The growth of envy online That growth of envy or jealousy triggered by our ever-expanding digital world has become the subject of research papers and psychology dissertations in recent years. “Since jealousy is about social comparison, modern technology makes this easier,” Richard explains. For example, he says, if you have 700 Facebook friends, and each one of them only does one great thing once a year, you’re still getting an average of two reminders every day of how wonderful someone else’s life is. Society raises most of us to be competitive, [so] our feelings can get very confused about the success of others, especially if we don’t feel successful.” The phenomenon has even led to the coining of a new word, “frenvy,” which is used to describe that mixed bag of emotions you feel when a friend has good—no, make that great—news. Your initial reaction of happiness may be mixed with a sinking feeling of envy. Yes, you’re happy their dreams are coming true, but it also shines a light back on your own inadequacies, real or imagined. In the study Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to User’s Life Satisfaction?, German researchers found that social-network use triggered envy among users, with the biggest sources of jealousy being the happiness of others, the way other people spend their vacations and the way they socialize. “Jealousy comes about by comparing how you are at this moment to other people at other times,” Richard says. “It sparks dissatisfaction with yourself, which may take the form of anger at others for what they have. There’s no end to jealousy—no matter what you do or have, someone else in the world will have more than you.” And for a good reminder of that, we need look no further than our Facebook feed. Read more on this subject: Living for Likes Turning the tables What makes envy so troublesome is that it changes how we feel about ourselves. “Consciously, envy is so painful because it is based in a feeling of deprivation,” writes Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D., on Psychologytoday.com, citing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor body image among its many effects. While we may not always be able to stop that initial feeling of envy that occurs from seeing the post of your friend’s exotic vacation or brand new home, Richard suggests these conscious ways to turn those feelings around: 1. Wish your friends well “Write a positive response [to their post], like ‘That’s awesome!’” he suggests. “Even if we feel jealous, we can wish our friends well when something good happens to them.” 2. Put the situation in perspective We all have successes, and each person’s success and happiness contributes to a happier planet overall. “If good things are happening to them, they will be happier and there will be less chaos and disharmony in the world.” 3. Use mindfulness Mindfulness is about living in the moment and not getting caught up in comparisons. “When you are constantly comparing this moment to some other time and some other place, it means you are living in your head and not in your own life,” Richard says. “No matter what is going on for other people, you can practice bringing your attention into this moment, into what you are doing right now.” 4. Turn envy into inspiration Instead of looking at what others have that you don’t, think about what you truly want – and what you can do to reach those aspirations. “If we really want to change something in our lives,” Richard says, “spending all our time worrying about other people will not help make that change happen. Read more on this subject: Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me? Paula Felps is the Science Editor for Live Happy magazine.
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FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me?

In his song from The Lion King, “The Circle of Life,” Elton John reminds us that, from the moment we’re born, “There’s more to see than can ever be seen; more to do than can ever be done.” Today, thanks to social media, we’re constantly reminded just how much there is to do—which often becomes a reminder of all the things we’re not doing. When viewed through the lens of Facebook or Instagram, it begins to look like everyone else is doing more than we are, or doing a better job at it, or having more fun doing it—without us. Before long, it’s easy to start feeling like a kid stuck inside with the flu on a snow day while the rest of the world is outside sledding. Universal fear The feelings created by this phenomenon are so common that they have their own catchy acronym: FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out. The problem is so ubiquitous that scientists are beginning to study it, and the term has even been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. FOMO, that feeling that others are having a better time than you are, is what U.K. psychotherapist Philippa Perry calls “a modern take on the grass being greener on the other side.” And many experts fear that it’s getting worse. In 2015, the Australian Psychological Society conducted a survey on FOMO, studying adults as well as teens ages 13 to 17. Andrew Fuller, clinical psychologist and spokesman for the APS survey, reports that the study confirms what many of us suspected: Social media can make us feel isolated. “Teens who were heavy users [of social media] reported higher levels of FOMO,” Andrew says. “They report fearing their friends were having more rewarding experiences than them, being worried when they find out their friends are having fun without them, and being bothered when they miss out on a planned get-together.” Those who connected to social media five or more times per day showed the greatest levels of FOMO, with about 50 percent of the teens falling into that category. FOMO: Not just for kids It’s not just teens who feel the anxiety, either. An international study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that about 75 percent of the survey’s participants—who ranged in age from 18 to 62—experienced FOMO. What’s particularly interesting is that the very thing we’re using to connect with other people may actually be making us feel more isolated. “For those who fear missing out, participation in social media may be especially attractive,” concluded Andrew Przybylski, Ph.D., lead author of the study and faculty member at the University of Oxford. “Services like Facebook [and] Twitter … are technological tools for seeking social connection and provide the promise of greater levels of social involvement.” However, all too often those Facebook photos and Instagram posts serve as a reminder that someone out there is having more fun than you are. Turning to social media for connection may, instead, leave you feeling more isolated and left out. In fact, the international study, like the one conducted in Australia, directly linked higher levels of FOMO with greater social media interaction. Read More: Nothing Compares to You It’s not all bad…is it? Of course, social media alone can’t shoulder the blame for FOMO; how we approach it plays a big role in how it affects us. “We all have good and bad things in our life,” explains Eric Barker, writer and publisher of the Barking Up the Wrong Tree newsletter, which covers research-based formulas for happiness. “Focus on the good, you’re happy. Focus on the bad, you’re depressed.” He cites Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics, who says, “Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention.” Constantly comparing ourselves to others can force us to make “upward comparisons,” Eric adds. “That’s like comparing your paycheck to a billionaire’s. This is a prescription for FOMO. You could be focusing your attention on something great happening in your life right now, but instead you’re [directing your attention] to that friend who just bought a brand new Mercedes.” While it may be natural to compare ourselves to others to a certain extent, it’s not necessarily healthy. Nor is it entirely accurate. “On Facebook, everyone presents their best self,” Eric reminds. “They post photos of their fantastic vacation, not the lousy hotel room they stayed in on an awful business trip.” Read more: Is Facebook Making Us Depressed? No mo' FOMO How do you keep from getting sucked into FOMO? As Eric points out, it begins with where you focus your attention and what you take away from it. Here are three tips for giving FOMO the boot: Limit your social media time. “Rather than sprinting to your Facebook feed every moment there’s downtime, designate when you’ll check social media and, otherwise, stay off it,” Eric advises. “You want social media to be the place you visit, not where your head is primarily at.” Get in the moment. Instead of scrolling through other people’s lives, take a moment to be mindful of what is going on, in real time, in your real world. Stop worrying about what you’re missing and start enjoying what you’re doing; you’ll soon find yourself less concerned about what you aren’t doing when you start loving what you are doing. Resist making comparisons to others, suggests Rebecca McGuirre-Snieckus, Ph.D., in Psychologies magazine. “Look at the positives of your life, stop and think, ‘Wow, look what I’ve achieved.’” Comparing yourself to others won’t change your situation; appreciating what you have will only make it better. Read more: Living For Likes Paula Felps is the Science Editor for Live Happy.
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