What We Can Learn About Reducing Stress From This Major Analysis Of The World’s Emotions

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We live in complex times, to say the least. People across the globe are sadder, more frightened, and angrier than ever, according to a new Gallup study. The annual Global State of Emotions report, which looked at the world's emotions in 2018, says that, while the world is stressed out and sad, there are regions reporting less stress and high levels of happiness and life satisfaction, despite major life challenges.

Unfortunately, sadness, anger, and fear rose to record highs in 2018 for the second year in a row, wrote Rob Picheta for CNN. And while overall stress levels dropped slightly in 2018, the last two years have been intense in terms of global emotional distress, with not a whole lot of improvement reported since 2017, according to CNN. About one-third of the world’s population manage chronic pain and worry, said USA Today. Over half of all Americans (55%) reported feeling stressed out on an ongoing basis in 2018, while almost half (45%) of people in the United States said they felt worried every day, and 22% reported chronic anger. While Americans reported even more stress in 2018 than they did in 2017, according to the Gallup study, Greece has been the most stressed out country in the world since 2012, USA Today said.

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“Even as their economy roared, more Americans were stressed, angry, and worried last year than they have been at most points during the past decade,” Julie Ray, a Gallup editor, wrote in a summary report, according to USA Today.

But there is a bright side. Gallup also surveyed populations for positive emotions, and despite the bleak outlook that Gallup’s report might seem to paint, more than 7 in 10 people worldwide also reported feeling well-rested and happy. They also said that they "smiled and laughed a lot" before the Gallup interview. Significantly, 87% of those surveyed by Gallup said that they were treated with respect on an ongoing basis, according to CNN. And despite exposure to violence and high levels of poverty, people in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico reported high levels of overall happiness, while Paraguay topped the list as the world’s happiest, most positive country.

The high happiness rankings in these countries “at least partly reflect the cultural tendency in the region to focus on life’s positives,” Gallup’s global managing partner, Jon Clifton, said in the Gallup report.

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According to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, Scandinavian countries also top the list of the world’s happiest people. While Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland reported the most happiness in the U.N’s study, Gallup’s survey found even higher levels of positive emotions in Latin America, according to CNN.

Even though life challenges are pervasive across the globe, the Global Emotions Report's research suggests that, among its happiest regions, prioritization of family, work-life balance, deliberately focusing on the positive aspects of life, and a commitment to making life as enjoyable as possible under any conditions, might hold some keys as to how to optimize happiness — as much as you’re able to — no matter where you live.