1. Most Americans are not insular. The USA has its fair share of dumb, ignorant, lazy, and fat people just like in European and Asian countries. Most Americans are generally intelligent, knowable of world events, and worldly. But you will never see this on most (95%) American TV shows, American movies, and American news (TV, newspapers, and the internet) because these entities are anti-American starting about fifty years ago. Most Europeans and Asians do not realize this.
2. Most American TV shows and movies do not portray Americans accurately. And the internet only exacerbates this with all the anti-American websites.
3. As I said many times before, there is no superior or greatest nation in the world. There never was and never will be. The reason for this is one word – resources. That is another story so I will not get into this now. Most Americans know this but you never hear them talk about it.
4. The average American gets about three weeks of holiday (vacation) while their counterparts in developed European nations get about five weeks of holiday. That is just the way it is.
5. The USA is very large and for most Americans to travel to Europe and Asia is just more expensive proportionally than Europeans traveling in Europe. Plus, the US dollar is weak and will continue to be so for many years. This kind of travel is really for upper middle income Americans and up. Most Americans (between 22 and 67 years of age) would like to travel to Europe but it just too expensive as compared to their European counterparts. This is why you see more old American tourists in Europe than young American tourists. The older ones have more money.
6. The average American (young to middle age) is not rich.
7. Most Americans do not have a self esteem or an inferiority complex with its country. They are realists and practical. They know what is, what was, and what may be when it comes to national and international problems.
8. Progress in science and engineering is, was, and will always be an international thing. Ask any American scientist, engineer, medical doctor, technician, or nurse and they will tell you so because that is how they are taught.
9. The American education system is not standardized with high standards throughout the country. In general, it is better in middle income and rich neighborhoods than poor and lower income neighborhoods. In general, the British do a better job in teaching science at the secondary education level than Americans.
10. The USA does have an ugly history but so does the rest of the world.
11. The concept of democracy was developed in ancient Greece but was not put into practice in the USA until 1965. However, there is now abuse in democratic practices that is now harming the USA – thanks to a mislead government, evil special interest groups, illegal immigration, Islam, organized crime, negative foreign influence, and central banks.
12. The USA has contributed in the joint effort in WWI and WWII. The USA only got involved militarily in South America, Vietnam, and the Middle East because the government thought it was necessary at that time. Yes there were mistakes and disasters, but the government at the time thought the objectives were achievable. Just take a look at the French in Vietnam, the British in Northern Ireland, Iraq invading Kuwait, Japanese invading China and Korea prior to WWII (which resulted in 10 million plus Asians murdered by the Japanese), European colonization of Africa, etc.
13. The USA has made contributions in science, technology, business management, agriculture, and commerce.
14. Most Americans do realize that the largest military or economy is not necessarily the best thing. It depends in what is really needed in the country at a particular time.
15. The US gives about $30 billion to $70 billion per year in foreign aid that is funded by US tax payers. And a lot of the so called countries the US has contributed to in foreign aid are anti-American and abuse the aid. This makes a lot of Americans angry.
So to answer your question in why some Americans think the rest of the world is jealous of them, well I can only give you an answer based on what I have been exposed to. Bear in mind this is a not really objective because a lot of research is needed (reading different sources, scientific polls, surveys, etc.) and very lengthy (several years).
Based on my readings and talking to about thirty Americans over the age of forty, I would say most Americans think the rest of the world is not jealous. They know when the government says a thing like the USA is the greatest country in the world then the government is just “blowing hot air”. The reasons for this are because there are still some sociable and economic problems that have not been solved yet and they go back at least 150 years.