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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Is it possible to be both happy and sad at the same time?

Compiled by Herb Scribner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, Aug. 28 12:25 p.m. MDT

 Americans are the happiest they've been in terms of consumer confidence since the Great Recession. But they're still upset. Here's what's making them happy in other ways.

Americans are the happiest they've been in terms of consumer confidence since the Great Recession. But they're still upset. Here's what's making them happy in other ways.

(Alexander Raths, Getty Images/)

The mood of America is the best it’s been since the economic crisis a few years back.

That mood, though, is still pretty bad.

Quartz’s Matthew Phillips reported on Monday that even though America is in a better mood now than in late 2007, the feelings America is putting out there are still pretty low.

Consumers' level of confidence is at 92.4, according to the Conference Board’s look into consumer confidence, which is the highest it's been since 2007. Still, in 2007 it was around 110, so the smile is still upside down.

“Of course, you’d have to be blind not to notice that U.S. consumer sentiment remains depressed when compared with the years that preceded the Great Recession,” Phillips wrote.

But the happiness of America doesn’t just connect back to consumption. A 2013 Harris poll found that one in three Americans would say they’re very happy. Part of that has to do with how people are looking at the job market, and how there aren’t really as many jobs as they’d like.

"While the attitudes on the economy may be improving, we're seeing that this is not translating into an improvement in overall happiness,” said Regina Corso, the senior vice president of the poll. “For certain groups, such as minorities, recent graduates and the disabled, they are actually sub segments of the American population where 'happiness' has trended downward in the last couple years."

Politics is also something that is making Americans unhappy. Polls have shown that President Barack Obama’s approval rating is at an all-time low. Similarly, Americans don’t really have it in their stomach anymore for Congress, which has a 14 percent approval rating from the public, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll.

All this is to say that Americans aren’t peppy about politics, they’re nervous and unaccepting of the job market, and they’re barely getting back into the consumption game.

But they're still happy — for other reasons. Americans are finding a lot of comfort in the three Fs — family, faith and friendships.

The aforementioned Harris poll found the strongest ratings for happiness for Americans came from having strong familial bonds, good relationships with their friends and being in touch with their faith.

According to Clay Routledge, Ph.D., of Psychology Today, religion can make people happy — and in some cases make people happier than those who aren’t believers. This may not be the religion specifically, Routledge noted. It actually could be because of the bonds and relationships created within the congregation.

“It is the social connections that religious life facilitates that make people happy,” Routledge wrote.

This was something that Sally Quinn of On Faith also agreed with earlier this year. It’s the community and social bonds that religion carries with it that are making people more hopeful.

And that extends to family and other relationships outside of church. A recent survey found that many people are finding happiness through the relationships they form and the environments that they find themselves in, according to the Daily Mail. This includes becoming more involved with family, friends, or partners.

So while Americans are unhappy with the overall economic situation, they are finding happiness in other ways that are closer to home.

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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