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We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

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Global Survey Finds Happiness on the Rise

There is a 10% jump in global happiness.

Do you find yourself smiling more? Do you walk around with an extra pep in your step? Have you been waking up on the right side of the bed most mornings? You’re not alone. According to WIN/Gallup International’s annual End of the Year survey, 70 percent of people around the world report that they are very happy with their lives, thank you very much. That’s a 10 percent jump up from last year, when people were only just kinda happy.

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Can’t Buy Me Love?

The problems with measuring a country’s worth by gross domestic product or gross national happiness

Former King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk inspects troops in India

Bhutan usually doesn’t carry too much weight in world affairs. About 750,000 people in a mountainous patch of territory just bigger than Maryland, the aggressively isolationist nation only really opened itself to international diplomacy, trade, and visitation in 1974. Even then, Bhutan, landlocked between China, India, and Nepal, lacked significant resources and its internal reliance on agriculture and handicrafts all but relegated it to obscurity on the world stage. But Bhutan’s found one export—an idea rather than a product—that over the past few years has become a pretty big international hit. They call their grand innovation GNH, Gross National Happiness, a challenge to the world’s obsession with measuring nations’ comparative statuses through Gross Domestic Product numbers. This belief in the value of joy over the size the economy hasn’t been directly adopted by many countries, but its example has spurred a host of new metrics for nations to mark their progress in terms of wellbeing rather than just economic growth. And goals to set policies based on these new metrics may help to change the trajectory of national development strategies and values across the world.

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