They say sunshine is good for the heart and soul, and according to a national survey of the happiest states in the U.S. that old saying might just be true—or is it, that healthy combination of warm sun, white sands and fruity, umbrella-adorned cocktails?
Turns out the aloha state, Hawaii, tops the list when it comes to the happiest people in the U.S. Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska also topped the list. Curious if your state made the list? Below are the top 10 happiest states, based on their “average well-being” scores (out of a possible 100 points):
The 10 Happiest U.S. States
1. Hawaii: 71.0
2. Wyoming: 69.2
3. North Dakota: 68.4
4. Alaska: 68.3
5. Colorado: 68.0
6. Minnesota: 68.0
7. South Dakota: 68.0
8. Utah: 67.9
9. Connecticut: 67.9
10. Nebraska: 67.8
11. Massachusetts: 67.8
So what were these scores based on? The survey, conducted by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, included a random sample of 352,840 adults ages 18 and older living in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It looked at six categories of well-being, including:
- Life evaluation (self-evaluation about your present life situation and anticipated one in five years)
- Emotional health
- Work environment (such as job satisfaction)
- Physical health
- Healthy behavior
- Basic access to health care, a doctor, a safe place to exercise and walk, as well as community satisfaction
But with so many states still trying to recover from the recession, how can we expect to compete with a vacation destination like Hawaii? Mass layoffs and salary cuts, along with public-school closings, don’t necessarily set the scene for happiness.
Gallup experts say it will be an uphill climb to improve our states “happiness” scores. The proposed solution is to find a way to increase residents’ access to good jobs and basic necessities like medical care, while decreasing costly, chronic conditions, like obesity and diabetes. These steps, Gallup says, will be the most likely ways to improve our well-being.
Still, the role these factors play in one’s overall happiness has been debated heavily. True happiness, it seems, is a fairly complex state.
What do you think?