Eventually, everything will be reduced to a number. Researchers have come up with something called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which attempts to measure the nation's general welfare "much like the Dow Jones Industrial Average portrays the health of the stock market." The index classifies people as "thriving" (49 percent of Americans), "struggling" (47 percent) or "suffering" (4 percent). And get this:
Those who are thriving tend to have higher incomes, more education and less illness. Those who are suffering have trouble meeting their basic needs, including food, shelter and medical care, said James Harter, Gallup's chief scientist for workplace management and well-being.
That's all it takes to thrive -- education, high income and not being sick? If only we'd known. If only we'd had the science!