That good old pioneer/pilgrim/pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps spirit is alive and well in the United States, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center on optimism in different countries. The numbers show an upbeat outlook is what makes us unique among the world's wealthier nations, and it may even make us happier.
According to a survey of people from 44 different countries last year, Americans are still super into individualism. As in, 57% disagreed with the statement, "Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control." That's compared to the 38% global median. And, 73% rated working hard a 10 on a scale of one to 10 in importance for getting ahead in life (as compared to 50% globally). It seems, then, that U.S. citizens believe factors such as geographic location, marital, or socioeconomic status don't matter as much as their own sheer determination.
Pew blogger George Gao found supporting results in some of the center's other surveys: When asked how their day was going, 41% of Americans answered that it was a "particularly good day." That's not as high as respondents in developing nations such as Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Colombia. But, it's way higher than the responses from Germany (21%) and Japan (8%), two nations that are economically closer to our own.
What of the growing gap between rich and poor? Inequalities in our public education system? The torturous struggle to find work-life balance? The crushing debt of recent college graduates? Well, looks like the majority (or the majority of those surveyed, anyway) aren't letting all that get them down. Everything is in our power, except when it's not, and today is a good day.