CBS News poll looks at where Americans find happiness

This is part 1 in the CBS News poll series “What’s Good?”

All year long, Americans have described for us the problems they see — and there is indeed a lot of tough news out there.

But with the holiday season here, we thought we’d also give them a chance to say what’s going well in their lives and what they’re grateful for. And for many people, there’s plenty of gratitude and happiness.

Happiness: It’s connected to our family lives — and not politics

We say we generally feel happy.

Well, most of us feel this way, anyway — at least fairly happy, if not very happy.

Reported happiness is related to how people think things are going with their family, their children, their health and to an extent — particularly for younger people — with their jobs and careers. 

Those who think things are going well with their family lives are far more likely to report general happiness.


(Reported happiness is not related to people’s votes or their partisanship, much as politicians might try to convince people otherwise. Nor is it related to living in either urban or suburban or rural places; and it’s not related to age.)

Family is also what many of us volunteer that we’re most grateful for, when asked in an open-ended question to describe something. Parents of kids under 18 are especially likely to report their children as what they’re grateful about.

Most Americans do report things going generally well in their family lives — it’s the aspect of life, out of many, that they’re most likely to describe as going well. 

Family is followed by health, hobbies and leisure, and community, though none of those are overwhelmingly large majorities. 


But it’s a reality of American life that money does come into play. Money doesn’t seem determinative, but it does seem to have a connection.

People who describe their financial situation as having enough money to live comfortably are more likely to report general happiness. 


And people with higher incomes, as well as those reporting living comfortably financially, are even more likely to report things “going well” with family, with their physical and mental health and also in their love lives and romantic relationships. (Money issues can, of course, put a strain on all those, so perhaps there are no surprises there.)


What do you like about your community?

Our regions and communities are always central to how we feel about the world around us. America has great food and a wealth of outdoor spaces, and these are the things people like best about their own communities when asked to pick from a wide assortment of items. It’s the case for people in all regions. 


Folks are more collectively mixed about things like the weather and the people, though few say these are bad. They’re really the most negative about the costs of living.

This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,182 U.S. adult residents interviewed between December 4-7, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.8 points.


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