Angry, Sad or In Pain? Join the Club

Angry, Sad or In Pain? Join the Club

Pain is all around us, the extensive 2018 Gallup poll measuring global emotion levels found. But it is not distributed evenly. The massive survey collected data from more than 151,000 interviews with adults in more than 140 countries. That’s 71.5 percent of all countries on the planet. All to find out how much pain and distress human beings feel every day.


The survey included questions like, “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” and “Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?”  Some of the questions were followed by rejoinders, like, “How about enjoyment?” and “How about sadness?” It also covered stress, worry, anger and physical pain in its attempt to find out about basic emotions around the globe.


While each segment was individually measured, Gallup came up with a “Positive Experience Index,” and a “Negative Experience Index” for each country and worldwide. And, there was some good news. The worldwide positive experience index was up two percentage points from 2017, climbing from 69 percent to 71 percent. That’s the highest it has ever been, although it matches world positive index scores from 2013 through 2015. The lowest positive experience index was 68 percent, which occurred in both 2006 and 2007.


And the winner last year was Paraguay and Panama, along with Latin America as a whole. Totally affirming that money does not buy happiness, nine of the top ten positive index scores were from Latin America with Paraguay and Panama topping the list at 85, followed by Guatemala (84), Mexico (84), El Salvador (83), Indonesia (83), Honduras (83), Ecuador (82) and Costa Rica and Columbia both with 81.


The lowest scores were in Afghanistan (43), Belarus (48), Yemen and Turkey (50), Lithuania (51), Nepal (53), Northern Cyprus (54), Bangladesh, Chad and Egypt (56). The poll also ranked the countries with the negative experience index scores. The five most despairing countries were Chad (54), Niger and Sierra Leone (50), Iraq (49) and Iran (48). Baltic countries, meanwhile, dominated the lowest negative experience index scores. Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, and Sweden were the lowest at 19, followed by Estonia, Mongolia, Poland, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam, which were all tied with 18.


Chad was also one of 10 countries, the poll found, where the majority of people said they were in physical pain on the day prior to the interview. In fact, six out of 10 Chadians or 66 percent answered yes to the question about feeling physical pain within 24 hours of the survey. In addition, 61 percent in Chad felt worried, 54 percent felt sad and 51 percent felt stress.


And where did Americans fit into all this? According to USA Today, which parsed the numbers, Americans were more stressed than even Chadians. In America, 55 percent said they felt stressed for a good part of their day, making the fun-loving U.S. of A. the fourth most stressed nation. (Greece topped that list with 59 percent indicating they felt stressed.) Almost half of Americans indicated they felt worried (45 percent), while 22 percent indicated they felt angry. Both of those numbers were higher than the previous year. In fact, regarding stress, the American index was 20 percentage points higher than the average global score.


So, what can we learn from Latin America? What are they doing that Americans are failing to do or what do they avoid that we fail to avoid? The answer, according to Mexican-born psychologist Ricardo Ainslie, is not found in anti-depressants or going to the gym. The difference, he said, was family. “Latin Americans tend to be so family-focused that I think this provides a sense of ‘whatever happens, I’ve got this,” he said. This – meaning families “is always my bedrock,” he said.