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America the Unhappy

Lenore Skenazy on

Americans -- "particularly those under 30 -- have become drastically less happy in recent years," The New York Times reported this week.

Graphs from the latest World Happiness Report -- a real thing, put out by Oxford, Gallup and the U.N. -- show American kids' happiness drifting down like a deflated balloon. The surgeon general, already alarmed about the epidemic of loneliness, called for new efforts "to improve real-life social connections for young people."

In my book, that translates to...


Really, it is that simple and obvious -- yet almost always overlooked. The latest data I saw found that kids play outside on their own under 10 minutes a day.

And yet when kids are playing, they are keenly engaged in "real life social connections." And generally, their mood improves.


I don't think I need to prove this point. But I was curious to hear other people's thoughts about this utterly undervalued activity. Play is losing out to adult-run activities, maybe because it's free, or because there are no trophies or grades. Or maybe it's considered more dangerous than sitting at home, with a phone for a friend.

So I asked, all over social media, "What did you get from just playing?"

Some responses:

"Creativity without anxiety."


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