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Why Are So Many Young People So Unhappy?

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A new report shows that happiness is plummeting among the younger generations in the U.S. and other Western nations. Could their hyperfocus on injustice and wokeness be the cause?


The recently released World Happiness Report, an annual study conducted by Gallup and the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University, showed that many Western nations have taken a nosedive in their happiness rankings, especially among the young.

Most significantly, the United States has dropped out of the Top 20 happiest nations for the first time ever, falling from 15th out of 137 countries in 2023 to 23rd of 143 countries in 2024.

While that data is concerning on its own, a closer look at the data shows something informative. Take, for example, some of the other nations that have also seen their happiness scores drop: Canada, Germany, and France. Each nation’s rankings were driven, at least in part, by a wide difference in rankings for older and younger generations.

France ranked 25th for those ages 60 and over compared to 48th for those under 30; Germany ranked 21st for those 60 and older but 47th for those under 30; and Canada ranked 8th for those considered older but dropped precipitously to 58th for the younger generations.      

The United States, however, had the largest difference, ranking 10th for those 60 and older while ranking 62nd for those under 30.

There are many factors that could account for such sadness among the youngest Americans: economic decline; isolation due to social media, television, and increasingly solitary lifestyles; dwindling marriage rates; or many other reasons.

Yet could it be, at least in part, wokeism?

A two-part study that was recently released in Finland showed that the woke are more likely to experience anxiety and depression and are less happy than the non-woke.

The study was authored by Oskari Lahtinen, a senior researcher at the INVEST Research Flagship Centre at the University of Turku. Lahtinen sees wokeism as an export of American universities, explaining:

“I had been paying attention to a development in American universities, where a new discourse on social justice became prevalent in the 2010s. While critical social justice (or intersectional or ‘woke’) discourse draws mainly from dynamics within American society it has now surfaced in other Western countries as well. The arrival of a critical social justice (often called ‘woke’) discourse sparked much debate in Finnish media in the last couple of years.”

He set out to develop a scale to determine how woke a person was. His study asked respondents to answer seven questions that were representative of a critical social justice mindset:

Based on the responses, the study found a correlation between a higher critical social justice score, and especially self-identification as woke, and having feelings of anxiety, depression, and being unhappy.

Notably, agreement with the statement “If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism” showed the largest connection with those negative emotions.

However, a person who identified as being on the political left had an even higher correlation to anxiety, depression, and unhappiness than someone who simply believed in the principles of social justice.

The findings really aren’t anything groundbreaking. Studies have continually shown for many years that conservatives are happier than their left-wing counterparts. As liberals indoctrinate young people and push them to more fully embrace Marxism, intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, radical feminism, LGBT ideology, and hatred of religion, this unhappiness only increases.

When someone believes that babies are racist; marriage is an institution of the patriarchy akin to slavery; eating meat is selfish and destroying the planet; July 4th is white supremacy; whites are stained by the original sin of their supposed privilege and blacks are forever held down by systemic racism; that we all evolved from a puddle of goo and there is no afterlife; and that the Soviet Union won the space race because the totalitarian, murderous regime supposedly valued diversity more than the U.S., then it’s going to be pretty difficult to find a reason to be optimistic.

At the root of leftism are some central ideals that make anxiety and unhappiness almost certain. Leftism says that there are inequities in the world and that those inequities are always the result of injustice. Thus, if you have more than someone else, whether that be more money, a bigger house, a better job, or a happier family, then it is all because of systemic oppression and injustice.

Intertwined with this reality are the inherent attitudes of entitlement and outrage. A leftist looks at living in the United States, one of the most prosperous and free nations in the history of mankind, and says, “This isn’t good enough. I deserve more.” It is a perverted ideal of fairness in which equal opportunity isn’t enough to be considered fair; only when each person, regardless of their talents, choices, career, work ethic, or character, has the exact same amount will it be considered fair.

Rather than seek to achieve more, the leftist sees someone who has what they want and would rather tear them down, claiming they must have stepped on the less fortunate to get it.

As Winston Churchill once opined,

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Party to this ever-aggrieved member of the woke is the desire for the government to “make things right” and give them what they want. A conservative wants the government to leave him alone and often looks to God and/or his own work ethic and creativity to prosper; it is his desire to have freedom to succeed or fail on their own, not because the government redistributed wealth or engaged in diversity initiatives.

But at the root of the entitlement and victim mentality of the left is pride, the very same pride that led Satan to try to seize God’s throne, the same pride that led Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and the same pride that runs through each of us every time we choose to disobey God’s laws and pretend we are God.

Look closely to what C.S. Lewis wrote about pride,

“Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.”

He continued,

“The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But Pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”

Marxism, with its hyper focus on jealousy, greed, hatred, and rejection of God, provides no remedy to this unending enmity.

Let’s make something clear: None of us deserves anything but God’s wrath.

We don’t deserve someone to provide a roof over our head, healthcare, the ability to have sex whenever we want and be guaranteed that a child won’t be the result, a certain income, a spot at the university that we desire, or to achieve our dream.

It is the lie of wokeism that says, “I deserve to have this, and if I don’t have it, someone else is the reason why.”

It is absolutely true that younger generations are facing a tough economy with a brutal housing market. The primary reason for the economic struggles we are facing, however, is leftist policies, government entitlement programs, and government interference in the free market.

Leftism is taking young people in Western countries, people in the prime of their life, and brainwashing them into being angry incessantly. It’s teaching them that they live in a garbage heap of a country and that they should hate both their country and certain people in it.

It’s teaching them that they deserve to have all the things their parents had at age 60 by the time they are 25.

It’s pointing to the economic recession caused by left-wing policies and using that as justification for more left-wing policies.

Happiness is a complicated thing, and the happiness of any person or group of people usually can’t be attributed to just one thing. Yet critical to happiness is gratitude, love, forgiveness, a positive outlook, and trust in God. Critical to wokeness is covetousness, hatred, mercilessness, entitlement, and trust in man.

So is wokeness contributing to unhappiness in the United States and the West? You better believe it.


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