Money does not buy happiness, it is said, and apparently it does not factor much into optimism either.   20 percent of humanity hoards 83 percent of the world's wealth but the vast majority of people, including the 60 percent of the world possessing just 6 percent of world wealth, think the next 5 years will be better for them.

Yes, despite an economic recession, famine, thousands of years without a single day bereft of war somewhere in the world and media reports about a flu epidemic afflicting the Earth, a new study from the University of Kansas and Gallup indicates that humans are optimistic.  Apparently it is just our nature.

The study presented  at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco found optimism to be universal - and borderless. 

They used data from the Gallup World Poll, which had 150,000 adults from 140 countries - a representative sample of 95 percent of the world's population.
world optimism USA 10
Yayyy, optimism!  Credit: University of Kansas/Gallup

At the country level, optimism was found to be highest in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand. The United States only ranked number 10 on the list of optimistic countries despite being terrifically wealthy and  having Barack Obama as president.  

Denmark is easy enough to believe; socialist countries always think they are better off ... but Brazil, with 46% of the population living under the poverty level, has to be something of a mystery.

Lowest were Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti ... and Bulgaria, despite being in the EU.

89 percent of individuals worldwide expect the next five years to be as good or better than their current life, and 95 percent of individuals expected their life in five years to be as good or better than their life was five years ago.

"These results provide compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon," said Matthew Gallagher, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and lead researcher of the study.

Age, household income and other known demographic factors in the respondents appear to have only modest effects on optimism.   Though other research says it helps to be old, male and Republican.

Not as happy and/or optimistic as Gallup says you should be?   Here are 5 tips that may help.   Most importantly, and funniest, is "pick good parents."