Mental Health

These are the world’s most positive countries

A macaw flies over buildings with the Avila mountain behind in Caracas March 31, 2015. Caracas, the world's second most violent city according to the United Nations, also suffers terrible traffic and residents spend hours in massive lines for scarce products. However, on antennae, rooves and windowsills, blue-and-yellow macaws (or Ara ararauna) break the harsh routine. Though originally native to rainforests from Panama to Paraguay, they have adapted well to Caracas thanks to the exuberant tropical vegetation surging between skyscrapers. Picture taken March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva - GF10000069920

Report finds Latin Americans 'laugh, smile and experience enjoyment like no one else in the world.' Image: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Mental Health

Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? Almost three-quarters of the world did.

The yes or no answers to this question, and four others about positive emotions from 151,000 adults in 143 countries, have been used to create an annual barometer of our global emotional state.

And the results show that in 2018 we were generally feeling quite positive about life.

At least seven out of 10 people told the Gallup Global Emotions Report they smiled or laughed a lot (74%), experienced a lot of enjoyment (71%), felt well rested (72%), and were treated with respect (87%).

The overall Positive Experience Index score for 2018 was 71, which is the highest it’s been since 2015. As the chart below shows, the past couple of years showed the beginning of a downward trend in positive emotions.

Image: Gallup Global Emotions 2019

The winner by smiles

So which country came out top? Paraguayans reported feeling the most positive emotions each day, topping the index at 85, in a top 10 list dominated by Latin America.

As the chart below shows, the only country outside the region whose people have the highest positive experiences was Indonesia.

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While Finland and its Nordic neighbours might have recently topped the 2019 World Happiness Report, Jon Clifton, Gallup’s Global Managing Partner, said it was important to measure both life satisfaction and emotions.

“Latin Americans may not always rate their lives the best (like the Nordic countries), but they laugh, smile and experience enjoyment like no one else in the world.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan had the lowest score for the second year in a row - just 43 - which was even lower than the year before.

The report said: “It reflects how devastating the negative cycle of poverty and violence has been to Afghans’ daily experiences.”

Only 36% of Afghans said they had smiled or laughed the previous day.

Negative experiences at record high

But the Positive Experience Index is only half the picture from the Gallup Global Emotions Report - with respondents also being asked about their negative feelings the day before the survey.

The overall Negative Experience Index has remained at a record high of 30 for the second year in a row - with more than a third of people reporting a lot of worry (39%) or stress (35%), three in 10 (31%) experiencing physical pain and at least a fifth experiencing sadness (24%) or anger (22%). Individual country scores ranged from a high of 54 in Chad to a low of 14 in Taiwan, China.

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Related topics:
Mental HealthBehavioural SciencesEconomic Progress
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