Less money, more happy
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 01:04
Moving through the UCCS campus, students ceaselessly merge the lanes dividing the happy from the downcast. Beneath the brims of hats, sweatshirt hoods and Snookie-inspired hair-poofs, eyes illustrate a sliver of the hidden feelings that direct campus traffic.
The Gallup poll released Feb. 9 assesses the overall life rating of Americans between three categories: suffering, struggling and thriving.
The results are calculated through a series of survey questions that ultimately assign an individual one score. A single number characterizes the constant sway of emotions that build contentment in life.
Kevin Zarkovacki, 20, considers his present life rating a nine. Zarkovacki, a computer science major, said, “If I put in the work, I’m doing well.” Holding a job at Home Depot and attending school are both jobs that he is willing to do. “Work itself is not the fun part, but seeing everything come together, getting the grades I need – that is,” he explained.
The percentage of Americans categorized as suffering was highest from October 2008 to March 2009. Gallup attributes the pitfall to the financial crisis and increased unemployment.
“A financial crisis makes people tighten the wallet,” said Alan Pedersen, 23. “With too many bills to pay, it brings tension into the relationship. Marriages, interpersonal relationships crumble.”
Pedersen, majoring in psychology, divides the life rating scale into two different categories: financial wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. His delivery job at Pizza Hut allows him to financially rate a 10. However, contesting the correlation between financial stability and emotional fulfillment, Pedersen rates himself as a 5 emotionally.
“I want to meet somebody and fall in love. Every once in a while, I feel really depressed about it,” he said. Despite present impatience with entanglements of the heart, Pedersen believes in his goals: Be less reserved and trust in people to like him back.
“When people try, sometimes we fail, but we have the freedom to do what we need to,” said Zarkovacki in addressing how to shift from suffering toward thriving.
Gallup assesses the present life rating of Americans, but also their prospective future life rating for the coming year. Results reflect general optimism to maintain the same score, or move toward thriving.
Dean Smith, 22, assesses himself a 6: struggling. He supports the correlation between financial stability and emotional wellbeing saying, “I have a few financial issues that control other aspects of my life: social, travel, time with my family.”
Smith, a native of Steamboat, moved to UCCS without familiar contacts or family to rely on. He moved to pursue the innovation program with business administration and an emphasis in international marketing. The opportunity to pursue dreams of traveling abroad outweighs the intimidation of loneliness.
Smith said, “Going to school is a lot better than struggling with two jobs in Steamboat.” He predicts that he will be an 8 in 2013.
Gallup reveals January 2012 as a climax for Americans who rate their lives as thriving, with 53.4 percent. Results illustrate an apparent slide away from comparatively larger percentages of suffering and struggling individuals in 2008.
“It’s the American dream,” said Zarkovacki, “If you want it, you can get it if you work hard enough.”
Despite the financial crux of renting a studio apartment at Highlands Ranch, Smith plans to visit Ireland and Australia over the summer. His projected increase in life rating is bolstered by his goals to meet new roommates, volunteer with the international student conservation program, and continue making money on the side by donating plasma weekly.
On the other hand, Pedersen, who is financially stable, is afforded the peace-of-mind to focus on his emotional happiness so that perhaps, next year, his life rating can be combined into one overarching number.
Murray is a student in COMM 2900 Writing for the Media