The US Misery Index is arrived at by the formula of the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate. In December 2010 the Misery Index was derived by the Unemployment Rate (9.4) plus the Inflation Rate (1.5) to equal 10.9. The formula was first put out in 1970 and created by the economist Arthur Okun. The high of the Misery Index was 21.98 in June 1980 and the low was 2.97 in July 1953. I will venture to say we are on the road to exceeding the high index.
That is not what is important. The Misery Index is a statistical measurement that given the circumstances of high unemployment and inflation of how miserable we could be if we allow the conditions to affect us. It is a negative measurement. My belief is the Misery Index is based on our happiness as consumers and not on our psychological, spiritual and physical well being. The chances that we are likely to be struggling during these times and having difficulty is greater since we are going through a historical transitional period, forcing us to re-prioritize what is truly important. It is very likely those conditions could adversely influence us but our response is critical to our well-being. One key to keep in mind is that conditions are never permanent and always subject to change. If the index is going higher, we need to prepare ourselves mentally for the challenge.
There is no easy pop psychology answer on how we can prepare ourselves, how to respond under these conditions and what we do to rise above adversity. Oprah and Dr. Phil can't help us. Everyone is different and uses individual coping mechanisms and we must each come up with our own answers. The purpose here is not to give advice or resolve in one easy step how to remain strong in a weak economic world but to point out that strength is required.
Strength is required because I also believe we are heading for a clash of economic, social and political values and change that is not going to occur without a fight. If we are ever to reclaim the "American Way" of entrepreneurial individualism after almost one hundred years of creeping "progressive" socialism, sneaking up like a cat burglar, in collusion with the original collectivists, corrupt corporatism elitists, then we need psychological power as well as physical endurance for the fight.
Reference: The US Misery Index
Chart: The Economist online 01/24/11