Is the Place Where You Live Happy?

photo by gnahcgem

photo by gnahcgem



If you’re a woman living in the United States, you’re six times more likely to be depressed than a man living in China.–Huffington Post

When I read the quote above, my jaw dropped open. After all, I live in the United States–the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But it seems while Americans are committed to running after happiness not many of us are catching it.


After looking through mounds of research and having conversations with people from around the world, here’s what I think is the root: Americans tend to tie happiness to material wealth. And we often do so at the expense of relationships.

Over dinner I recently asked a Compassion International LDP student from Kenya what the US could learn from his country. He said, “That life is about relationships.” Daniel Gilbert echoed this in the documentary This Emotional Life when he said, “Scientists now know successful relationships, more than any other factor, are the key to human happiness.” Once you have your basic needs met, increases in money have little to no impact on happiness according to research.

An old story goes that a business man approached a fisherman in a small village. As the fisherman hauled his catch onto the deck, the business man inquired, “Are you done for the day?” The fisherman replied, “Yes, now I will go home to be with my wife, take a nap, enjoy my friends, have a wonderful dinner and go to sleep early.”

The business man said, “I can tell you how to grow your business. If you just put in more time, you can catch more fish. Then you can sell the extra to save money for a bigger boat. Then you can buy many boats. Once you do that, you can have fishing operations in lots of cities. And if you work hard and make sacrifices, many years from now you will be very wealthy.”

The fisherman asked, “And what will I do when I am very wealthy?” The business man replied, “Well, you can work a few hours a day then go home to be with your wife, take a nap, enjoy your friends, have wonderful dinners and go to sleep early.”

We’re taught to delay happiness until we achieve a certain amount of wealth or status. We make being happy about “someday” and often miss out on enjoying the people we love and what we already have today. The Apostle Paul said, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” {I Tim. 6:8}. Wise advice for fishermen, business men, Americans…and us.

Happiness is surprisingly cheap.


Holley Gerth

About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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