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Why you should take pride in your nation

Taking pride in your nation doesn’t just make you feel more patriotic. It also makes you feel better about yourself, according to research from American University. What matters is the type of pride you take. Any old nationalism, unfortunately, won’t cut it. 

Civic and ethnic nationalism

Researchers like to break nationalism down into two broad categories: ethnic and civic. As you might be able to guess, ethnic nationalism is all about creating nationalism around a particular ethnic group, such as the Japanese have done in Japan, or the Han Chinese in China. These societies have people from similar genetic backgrounds and aren’t welcoming of large numbers of foreigners. The other type of nationalism is civic. This is where you love your country because of the values it espouses, the institutions it has, and the achievements are possible by everyone working together for a better future.  Compared to ethnic nationalism, civic nationalism is far more welcoming of other groups. It is the most common form of nationalism in the U.S. In fact, many citizens in America who are staunchly against nationalism. Because they believe it is ethnically driven, they are actually intense civic nationalists. Therefore, they believe that the core values of the society, such as tolerance and liberalism, should be upheld.
nation
KYLE GLENN/UNSPLASH PHOTO

What does this have to do with happiness?

When the researchers eye-balled the data on nationalism and happiness from afar, they found that any type of patriotism seemed to increase a person’s wellbeing. However, when they delved a little deeper into the data, they discovered something interesting. People with “civic nationalist” beliefs were significantly happier than those with ethnic nationalist beliefs. Psychologically, the researchers believe that this stems from the underlying emotional impulses affecting both groups. Ethnic nationalists have a high incidence of anger, fear, and repression. Meanwhile, civic nationalists tended to be idealists, experiencing joy, pride, and optimism. 

What does this have to do with you?

For many years, researchers have found that the happiest people tend to be those who take part in social groups. Researcher on older adults, for instance, finds that those who are part of a strong religious community may actually live longer.  But what can the average person do on a nationalist level? Well, one option is to invest in military flags for the home. The military is right at the core of the protection of the nation and essential for preventing foreign threats.  You can also become more idealistic about your country. It might not be perfect, but compared to many other nations around the world, it is a paradise. There is a rule of law, low corruption in the courts, and many civil liberties. The roads are well-maintained, and medical care is available when you need it. If you’re not keen on the idea of taking pride in your nation but still want to experience the health benefits, you can stand for something. For instance, you might want to focus on rights in your community or find a way to make the country’s values chime more with your own.
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