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  • Smart Brevityβ„’ count: 246 words ... 1 minute. Copy edited by Amy Stern.

1 big thing: The ingredients of a happy life

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Just 12% of Americans classify themselves as "very happy," according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll.

  • So The Journal asked them what drives their happiness.

πŸ’‘ Why it matters: The share of Americans who say they're "pretty happy" has stayed pretty consistent over the last several years, but the share who say they're "not happy" has jumped 18 percentage points since 2019.

  • At the same time, the share of "very happy" people has plunged 20 points.

πŸ”­ The big picture: America's happiest people have some common traits, The Journal's Aaron Zitner writes.

  1. They treasure relationships, with 67% saying marriage is very important to them β€” compared with 43% of overall respondents.
  2. Two-thirds of "very happy" adults say they're moderately or very religious, compared with less than half of all adults.
  3. Many of the happiest adults are satisfied with their personal finances, but they don't tend to put a high value on money.
  4. They tend to be older. Those above the age of 60 make up 44% of the "very happy" category even though they make up just 30% of all respondents.

🧠 Worth noting: Happiness doesn't depend on politics. Democrats and Republicans are equally represented in the "very happy" population.

Go deeper: Happiness spikes in our 70s

🎨 Nature's colors

Photo: Kevan S.

Day breaks in Roaring Gap, N.C., in this stunning photo from reader Kevan S.

  • "Nothing finer," he writes.