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Red, White & Unexpected? Navigating the Barriers to Joy



Before we can dig into our new mini-series in celebration of the 4th of July, Red, White, and Unexpected: The 4 Pillars of American Joy, we know that you likely have questions about the potential barriers to finding joy. What are the opportunity areas for improvement? I know, it's the way many of our brains are wired, including mine.


After studying the ups and downs of consumer sentiment over the past 3 years, the reality is that many of these barriers are lingering or amplified unintended consequences from the pandemic. These were so profound that I created a dedicated chapter in my book, The Business of Joy.


Let’s take a look qualitatively at the write-in comments. Remember, the question I asked was “What were the positives about living in America? ” While the majority of responses were positive, about 10% of respondents expressed concerns about current issues in the country, including political divisions, economic struggles, and perceived threats to freedom.


"Learning what life is like in other countries, makes me appreciate this country. But the state of the country now, I'm very worried about the future."

After analyzing these comments, the following themes emerged. These are probably not too surprising, yet they represent the opportunity areas that we face.

  • Divided nation and leadership challenge

  • Difficulties with political parties and court systems

  • Wavering belief in shared values

  • Issues with the current political situation

  • Restrictions and loss of freedoms

  • Concerns about the future

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more of our quantitative insights on other pressing issues like inflation, job markets and more. Yet, in the meantime, we chose to focus some much needed energy on joy. A peek at just one of the many positive comments to come:

"My favorite thing about living in the USA is the prosperity available to anyone. While it has become harder to climb the socioeconomic ladders, it still remains possible."

So What? Now What?

Despite these concerns, the overall sentiment remained positive, underscoring the resilience and optimism of the American people which we will cover in our upcoming articles.


Our data strongly indicates that solutions to problems are more attainable when we approach them with positive intent and collaboration, rather than dwelling in negative intent, fear, and mistrust. I like to think that most of us understand this simple truth on a logical level. Yet, amidst the daily onslaught of negativity that surrounds us, staying positive becomes an arduous task. I understand the struggle.


Words on a page can be insightful, but without corresponding actions in our personal and professional lives, they hold little value. Remember, joy is a personal choice for each of us, each and every day.








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