Have you heard of the World Happiness Report? This report ranks over 150 countries in terms of people’s self-reported perception of their happiness. I read a blurb about the report. Fascinated, I then clicked on the link to read the actual report. Yea, I’m a bit of a geek. I figure I should put my data and analysis day job skills to use on something that actually interests me.
What I found interesting in the report was that Americans’ happiness has significantly decreased since 2012. What happened in 2012? This was the first year that most of Americans owned a smartphone. This especially caught my attention because 2012 is the year that I first had a smartphone!
There are many theories on what’s behind the correlation. It’s not so much the 24/7 access that the smartphone has to, well, pretty much everything you can dream up that causes the unhappiness. Most researchers say it’s what the smartphone is taking the place of, primarily in-person social connectedness.
That makes sense since social connectedness is a major factor in determining happiness. Just as I wrote in the post, Joy in Connecting with People, joy from connecting to others goes all the way back to our cave person days when we literally needed others for survival. Happiness from uniting with others is in our DNA!
In present day, as well, researchers have found that we greatly benefit from connections to others—we are physically healthier, less aggressive, more helpful, and we recover from stress easier. Just generally, we are happier when we interact with other people.
I’m not writing a scientific research paper here so I can just blurt out my opinion from my own personal information. For me, my smartphone has increased my happiness because nearly everyday I find myself being grateful that I have it so I can connect with my friends and family so easily—most of which don’t live nearby. I also use my smartphone to stay connected to my husband throughout the day. Some days we don’t actually text or email each other. But just knowing that we can, increases my feeling of connection to him.
So use your smartphone in smart ways. Don’t let it disconnect you from people, but rather use it to increase your bond to others. Talk, text, or email people significant in your life. You can even use it to simply set up when and where you are going to physically meet up with your friends or family. Remembering to be grateful that you have the device to easily keep in touch across distances near and far will ensure that you don’t fall into the statistic of the decreasing rate of American happiness.