How in the World Are You?
How did you experience life yesterday? Were you angry? Did people treat you with respect? Were you well rested? These are the sorts of questions the Gallup organization asks people around the world each year. Then they crunch numbers and make beautiful graphics and release their Gallup Global Emotions report. If you have been waiting with bated breath, you'll be happy to know the 2023 report is now available.
Five questions contribute to the Negative Experiences score. Yesterday, did you experience...
Statisticians convert the responses so they conform to an index score ranging from 0 to 100.
One striking finding is that worldwide our negative experiences are increasing. We might expect a Covid-19 bump in 2020, but the incline started well before then.
Negative Experiences are Increasing
It has been a challenging decade. Consider the impact of natural disasters, climate change, global conflict, ideological polarization, technological changes, use of social media, and so on. People around the world seem to be facing more difficulties with each passing year. (Thankfully, 2022 seemed no worse than 2021.)
Given the increase in negative experiences, we might reasonably assume that positive experiences are declining. Not so.
Positive experiences are measured by asking if yesterday...
You were well-rested?
You were treated with respect all day?
Did you smile or laugh a lot?
Did you learn or do something interesting?
Did you experience enjoyment?
Again, scores are converted to a 100-point index score.
Positive Experiences are Holding Steady
Notice how consistent these scores are each year. Even as negative experiences increase, people still laugh (in 2022, 73% reported laughing a lot yesterday). They feel treated with respect (87%), and report being well-rested (71%).
Even if the world is getting more difficult, we still love and work and play and laugh. We put gratitude apps on our phones so we can remember to be thankful, our kids and grandkids laugh on the playground, and they play soccer for fun as parents and grandparents huddle around to cheer them on. Drivers are often courteous on the highways; families and friends gather for good food and conversation. We meet together, listen to inspiring words, offer loving acts of kindness to people we know and some we don’t. People make homemade sugar cookies and sourdough bread and delight in wood-fired pizza.
One of my favorite descriptions of finding life's goodness amidst challenge comes from Carrie Newcomer's song, Every Little Bit of It. "There it is just below the surface of things." "Drain the glass, drink it down, every moment of this. Every little bit of it."
A week ago, Lisa and I had 10 friends over to enjoy peach cobbler, homemade ice cream, good conversation, and a game called Great Minds Think Alike. We smiled and laughed the evening away, enjoyed tasty food, and parted with a deep sense of how good it is to be alive, and to be with others.
Yes, life is hard, and the Gallup data suggests it may be getting harder. But it is also good. Deeply good.
May you find joy in this day, and may you drink it down. Every little bit of it.