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Survey: People in Latin America Among World’s Most Upbeat

December 24, 2012
Plain English Version

Shoppers in Panama City, Panama

Researchers looking for people with “positive emotions” found them in Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador and Venezuela. The question asked was whether people had smiled, laughed and felt respected the day before.

They looked in 148 countries. In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent said they had felt those emotions. Countries such as Denmark and Norway also had high scores. Why are richer and poorer countries both upbeat?

Some experts say these are not “happiness” studies, which usually measure wealth, jobs and economic security. It is possible to feel joy at living and still be less happy with your life situation.

Some countries score both high and low on the upbeat scale. The Philippine people were high on positive emotions but also high on feeling anger, stress and sadness.

Being upbeat is a quality of Latino people, an expert said. Their growing economies add to their positive feelings.

Happy people have become a goal of nations. For example in China many cities compete to become the happiest city.

However, happiness means different things in different countries. Happiness is excitement and joy in some countries. In others it is calmness and serenity.

Experts say asking these types of questions help governments know more about the “quality of life” in their countries. And what can be done to improve it.

The Los Angeles Times

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