The good news? The world isn’t getting any unhappier. The bad news? It’s not getting much happier, either.

As they have done for years, Gallup asked adults in 142 countries and areas if they had five different negative experiences on the day before the survey — and then compiled the results into an index that can go from 0 to 100. They explain that higher scores on the Negative Experience Index indicate that more of the population is experiencing these negative emotions. The Positive Experience Index stayed virtually the same. Their most recent report was just released, with data from 2022.

Positive experiences

The Positive Experience Index was measured after asking the following five questions: Did you feel well-rested yesterday? Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday? Did you experience enjoyment?

After hitting a low of 69 in 2021, the Positive Experience Index ticked up ever so slightly to 70 in 2022. Gallup found that “seven in 10 people worldwide said they felt well-rested (71%), experienced a lot of enjoyment (72%), or smiled or laughed a lot (73%). Nearly nine in 10 felt treated with respect (87%). People were far less likely, as they are typically, to say they learned or did something interesting the day before the interview; in 2022, half of the world (50%) experienced this.”

Five countries tied for the top spot in positive experiences with a score of 85. Those countries are Indonesia, Mexico, Paraguay, Philippines and Vietnam.

Negative experiences

The unhappiness indicator peaked in 2021 at 33 on Gallup’s index. It remained the same in 2022. The five unhappiness questions Gallup asked respondents were these: Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? Physical pain? Worry? Sadness? Stress? Anger?

They found that worldwide, 4 in 10 adults said they experienced a lot of worry (41%) or stress (40%), and nearly 1 in 3 experienced a lot of physical pain (32%). More than 1 in 4 experienced sadness (27%) and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%). 

The most unhappy country in the world was Afghanistan, but tied with them was Sierra Leone. Both had a score of 58 on the Gallup Index. The 77% of Sierra Leoneans that experience a lot of daily pain is the highest score for any country Gallup has ever measured.

Interestingly, “countries and areas with the lowest negative scores do not necessarily have the highest positive scores.” Five countries and one area tie for the lowest negative score of 20 on the Gallup Index. Those are Bulgaria, Estonia, Kosovo, Malaysia, Mongolia and Sweden.

How do you fare on the Gallup scale?

Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy