What a year this has been so far. First, the greatest public health crisis in 100 years hit us, then the U.S. economy imploded, and now the streets of many of our major cities resemble war zones after weeks of rioting, looting and violence. It has been one thing after another, and this has taken a great toll on the mental health of the American people. Of course we weren’t exactly in great shape coming into this year. In 2019, it was being reported that the suicide rate in the U.S. was at an all-time record high, alcohol-related deaths were at an all-time record high, and drug overdose deaths were at an all-time record high. So the truth is that we were already deeply miserable before 2020 came along, and now a brand new survey has discovered that as a result of everything that has happened so far this year we have become even more unhappy…
Spoiler alert: 2020 has been rough on the American psyche. Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years.
This bold – yet unsurprising – conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018.
Would you say that you are “very happy” with your life?
I hope so, and I would like to think that most of my readers are more content with their lives than the general population as a whole.
Personally, I would definitely label myself as “very happy”, but it looks like most of the population definitely does not feel the same way.
According to the survey, the coronavirus lockdowns are one of the big reasons why Americans are feeling less happy these days. Being forced to stay away from others has caused many people to feel increasingly lonely…
About twice as many Americans report being lonely today as in 2018, and not surprisingly given the lockdowns that tried to contain the spread of the coronavirus, there has also been a drop in satisfaction with social activities and relationships. Compared with 2018, Americans also are about twice as likely to say they sometimes or often have felt a lack of companionship (45% vs. 27%) and felt left out (37% vs. 18%) in the past four weeks.
Humans are inherently social creatures, and we were created to love and be loved.
I think that our politicians greatly underestimated the damage that social isolation would cause for many people. In some cases, the consequences have been absolutely devastating.
Meanwhile, a lot of Americans are also feeling unhappy these days due to economic reasons.
Up to this point in 2020, more than 100,000 businesses have permanently shut down, economic activity all over the planet has dropped precipitously, and more than 44 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits.
Initially, it was hoped that most of those jobs would eventually come back, but now it has become very clear that is not going to happen. In fact, one new estimate is projecting that a whopping 42 percent of the job losses “will be permanent”…
“50% of U.S. job losses come from the combination of lockdown and weak demand, 30% from the reallocation shock, and 20% from high unemployment benefits,” Bloomberg found.
A report by the Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago estimated 42% of layoffs that occurred as a result of the pandemic will be permanent.
In other words, millions upon millions of Americans that have lost their jobs during this pandemic will never be getting their old jobs back.
When I first started telling my readers that a lot of these jobs would never return, I got some really nasty emails.
There were some people that were absolutely incensed that I would suggest such a thing, but now the truth of the matter has become obvious to everyone.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the population was not prepared for an economic shock of this magnitude. In fact, another new survey has found that 33 percent of all Americans “do not feel prepared to deal with the financial impact of the pandemic”…
Even before COVID-19 was a household name, many Americans struggled to build up an emergency fund. Now, for some, the need for such a foundation is painfully clear. A full third – 33% – of respondents said they do not feel prepared to deal with the financial impact of the pandemic.
“If our current financial situation gets worse before it gets better, Americans need to have money set aside that they can lean back on as a last resort,” Frerichs said. “If you don’t currently have an emergency fund, try to set aside as much as you can every month, and aim to build enough to cover between three and six months of living expenses.”
For years, I have been strongly urging my readers to build up their emergency funds, and hopefully most of them heeded that advice.
Because things are not going to be turning around any time soon. The bad news is that much of the economic suffering that had been deferred by unprecedented government intervention is about to hit us in a major way, and the really bad news is that the economic problems that we are facing now are going to pale in comparison to what we will be facing in future years.
Needless to say, this is going to put even more stress on the mental health of Americans.
So if you think that people are going absolutely nuts right now, just wait until you see how bad things get when our society really starts to melt down.
But just because things will be falling apart all around you does not mean that you have to be personally miserable.
If you derive meaning and purpose in life from your career, your ambitions, your bank account, your social status and all of the things you have accumulated, then you will definitely have an exceedingly difficult time dealing with the things that are coming.
However, if instead you choose to derive meaning and purpose in life from the things that really matter, you will not be shaken even if all of your plans, programs and material possessions are taken from you.
All of human history has been building up to the moment that we are living in right now, and you were born for such a time as this. So don’t crawl into a hole and complain about how bad things are as conditions deteriorate. Instead, choose to stand up and become the person that you were created to be.