I just read an article on YahooNews. com, about a report on LiveScience.com that ranks the 50 U.S. states — and the District of Columbia — from “happiest” to “least happy.” Texas came in as the 16th happiest state.
Here’s an explanation on how they came up with the list: “The results are based on an examination of two data sets, one that included personal reports of happiness for 1.3 million Americans and the other that included objective measures, such as how crowded that state is, air quality, home prices and other factors known to impact quality of life.”
The list has Louisiana at the top, as the happiest state in the country. But then it says, “scientists caution, however, that the top spot, Louisiana, might not reflect current levels of well-being since the data were collected before the disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina. They are confident that data for the other states does accurately reflect happiness levels.”
The top 10 are: 1. Louisiana, 2. Hawaii, 3. Florida, 4. Tennessee, 5. Arizona, 6. Mississippi, 7. Montana, 8. South Carolina, 9. Alabama, 10. Maine. California was way down the list at No. 46, and New York placed dead last at No. 51 (remember, the rankings included the District of Columbia, which by the way, was No. 37.)
Here’s the interesting part: A similar study released last month used some different criteria and came up with a drastically different ranking. This study, also at LiveScience.com, says “states with wealthier, better educated and more tolerant residents are also happier on average. The reasoning is that wealthy states can provide infrastructure and so it’s easier for residents to get their needs met. In addition, states with a greater proportion of artists and gays would also be places where residents can freely express themselves.”
In other words, the “gayest” states are also the happiest states.
This report’s top 10 are: 1. Utah, 2. Hawaii, 3. Wyoming, 4. Colorado, 5. Minnesota, 6. Maryland, 7. Washington, 8. Massachussets, 9. California, 10. Arizona.
Texas dropped to No. 26 on this list, and Louisiana was down at No. 40 (no word if this info was gathered pre- or post-Katrina) and New York moved up to No. 35. This list didn’t include D.C., and West Virginia was No. 50 on the list — in other words, it was the least happy state.
I personally don’t think that any such ranking would actually be helpful to any individual in decided where to live to have the best chance at happiness. But if I had to choose my state of residence based on these lists, I think I’d go with Hawaii. It did the best overall. Besides, I like the beach.