Sure, happiness is too abstract a concept to measure perfectly, and it’s safe to say that a serious case of the Mondays can find you no matter what poorly drawn boundaries you’ve planted yourself within. Still, an environment can make a significant impact on your overall mood.
While 2017 polls may prove an across-the-board plummet, below is a compilation of the results from the past couple of years using some of the more reputable polls (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index & WalletHub, primarily). Determining factors in happiness for these surveys generally include things like emotional and physical health, income levels, daily commute, unemployment rates, and crime rates.
Judging from the results, it’s also safe to say that a state’s natural beauty might be a big-time indicator in general merriment. But I’ll let you see for yourself. Below are the states that appeared in the top nine most frequently in recent years.
Besides creating the most multi-purpose word on the planet (aloha), this state has been top five in several polls for at least five years in a row. In addition to boasting low unemployment numbers and medical issues, snakes are outlawed on the islands. If you do decide to move here, real estate agent may be a wise occupation choice.
The only state ever to say “no thanks” to the Olympics, this territory may be a little too cool for everyone else, especially since the inventor of the cheeseburger staked his beefy claim to these borders. As if that wasn’t enough, residents of Colorado are known for sleeping well and have fewer incidents of obesity and those pesky heart attacks.
Home of the ever-popular Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest and lowest crime rate, the southernmost Dakota is known for its strong sense of community to boot. If rolling prairies and loads of farmland are your things, this is the place to be. It’s pretty clear the Badlands are anything but.
There’s a reason LL Cool J and Biggie made it a point to tell us they wanted to go back here. Glorious beaches, impeccable scenery, and near-perfect weather all combine to form an almost unstoppable force of awesomeness. The decreased amounts of depression, obesity, and heart attacks don’t hurt either. However, commute, cost of living, and unemployment have been known to knock this state down a peg or two.
With around 300 sunny days a year, you can catch up on even the most serious of vitamin D deficiencies here. The lowest divorce rate and lowest number of work hours (!) of any state, Utahns (yes, that’s the official name for residents of Utah) also have the highest volunteerism and literacy rates. Oh yeah, and the inventor of the TV was born here.
The Mall of America is equal in size to 78 football fields, so your retail therapy just reached new heights (and depths and widths). Infamous for its lack of being infamous, emotional and physical well-being, as well as a high sense of community, are found in this gem of a state. Mars, the inventor of the Milky Way, Snickers, and 3 Musketeers, calls this state home. Bless you. Bless all of you.
First, in financial well-being, it’s no coincidence that Alaska doesn’t collect state sales tax. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve seen one of the state’s freakishly large vegetables or the annual outhouse races. Plus, women were granted the right to vote here a whole six years earlier than the 19th Amendment.
Though it’s technically still illegal for unmarried women to fish alone in this state (cue a pun about fish in the sea?), it was also the first state to elect a woman to Congress. Not sure where that leaves the level of misogyny, but Montana is first in community wellbeing, so there’s that. With a population density of six people per square mile, there are actually more cattle living here than people. Perfect for catching up on alone time.
The leading producer of sunflowers and a soybean production level that creates 483 billion crayons per year, this state might unofficially win most adorable (and most productive). Home to the world’s largest hamburger, this place is also the lowest in the country for the rate of food insecurity. North Dakota has three nicknames: the Peace Garden State, the Flickertail State, and the Roughrider State. And now it’s starting to look like that girl in high school who cried over an A-.
West Virginia and Kentucky need to be jotting down some notes here, as they always get a bad rap in happiness surveys. Whether you choose to relocate or dig down deeper into your state’s roots, you can always become the kind of resident that makes a place worth living no matter where you are.