- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2003

Americans are pretty chipper these days, despite dire predictions from partisan pundits and hand-wringing news media that the country is on the verge of collapse.

The old can-do spirit seems alive and well.

According to a Gallup poll, 87 percent of the nation — nine out of 10 Americans — deem their mental health and emotional well-being either excellent or good. Two-thirds of the respondents said they had not experienced a single day of melancholy in the past month.

Eighty-five percent said personal travails had not affected work, family or recreational activities in the past month.

Eighty-two percent described their physical health status as either excellent or good. Fifty-four percent said they had not felt sick in the past month, and 75 percent said poor physical health had not affected any of their normal activities.

Americans seem to soldier on: Even among the 26 percent who had used up to four sick days in the past month, 43 percent insisted that it had not interfered with their normal routine.

“Most Americans are upbeat about their current physical and mental well-being,” noted Gallup writer Colleen Murray.

And although there are plenty of health issues to fret about — smoking, obesity, severe acute respiratory syndrome, health care costs — Americans are taking “stock of their blessings,” she added.

The poll of 1,007 adults was conducted Nov. 3 through Nov. 5.

Meanwhile, things are not too shabby in the annual “Feel Good Index,” a survey of 1,017 adults released Nov. 19 by Harris Polls to reflect our attitudes about everyday life.

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they felt good about their family and home, 89 percent approved of their quality of life overall, 86 percent enjoyed their social life, 85 percent were upbeat about their health and 84 percent about their standard of living.

Seventy-eight percent felt good about their town of residence, 70 percent approved of the morals and values in their community, and 64 percent were pleased with their job.

“It is striking that most people feel better about the things they experience personally than about the things they learn or read about secondhand in the media,” said Harris Chairman Humphrey Taylor.

“This strongly suggest the media’s tendency to emphasize the negative,” he said.

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents also gave the nod to their marriage, their children’s future and their own financial security. Half felt good about “the state of the nation,” and 47 percent approved of the morals and values of the country.

That figure has risen 13 points since the poll was taken in 1998 during the Clinton administration.

Americans are more upbeat these days about the quality of air and water than they have been in recent years. The poll found that 70 percent had positive feelings about environmental issues — up from 61 percent in 1998.

The poll placed the overall “feel good index” at 70. The highest had stood at 75 in 1998; it was 71 percent last year.

Fears about the economy persist, though. The poll found that 35 percent felt good about the nation’s economy, compared with 68 percent in 1999.

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