“The funny thing with a town is that it can be like a person – you fall in love with it, faults and all."
If you want to take the song’s advice and “Get Happy,” head to Utah. A new WalletHub report has dubbed the Beehive State the happiest in the U.S.A.
What is happiness anyway? A fair question, that. It’s not necessarily founded on money. A 2014 Spectrem Group survey of Affluent households found that a majority of respondents disagreed with the statement that money can buy happiness. When asked what it meant to be rich, the highest percentage (89 percent) said greater security, while less than one-third (31 percent) said it meant more happiness.
But apart from financial security, a happy state also depends on physical health, job satisfaction, environment, social connectivity and general outlook on life, among other factors. WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 25 primary key metrics under the broad categories of emotional and physical well-being, work environment and community, environment and recreational activities.
Specifically, some of metrics include a “Hedonometer Score,” which measures personal expression of hedonism on social media, obesity and binge-drinking rates, commute time and number of work hours, volunteerism rate, weather conditions, divorce and suicide rates, and sports participation rate.
Utah ranks No.1 in work environment and community, environment and recreational activities, the WalletHub report finds
Here are the top 10 happiest states:
- North Dakota
Hawaii was ranked No. 1 for the best Hedonometer Score and the lowest depression rate while South Dakotans can claim bragging rights for highest adequate sleep rate. Utah was ranked No. 1 for its volunteerism, low divorce rate and the lowest number of work hours.
And the least happy states? In descending order:
- West Virginia
New Jersey bottomed out as the state with the worst Hedonometer Score, while New Mexico was dubbed the least safe state in which to live.
How much does where you live influence your happiness? “People in California aren’t happier than people everywhere else, despite the lovely weather,” observes Valerie Tiberius, professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. “What seems to matter more than geographical location is community. We do better when we have the support of others.”
Ramani Durvasula, associate professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, agrees. “The funny thing with a town is that it can be like a person – you fall in love with it, faults and all,” she says. “And while someone else may not get it – you do. Living in a place you love can smooth over the tough days – which most of us have. So even on the tough days at work, etc., if you know your friends and loved one are nearby or you have your favorite hike or restaurant or just love your home – that can go a long way.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.