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The Happiest State
November 16, 2009 3:51 PM   Subscribe

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is a survey that rated the 50 states of America from most to least happiest, based on things like emotional health, job satisfaction, and healthy decisions. The top states may surprise you.
posted by Taft (96 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The spread is only 61.2 - 69.2? Not bad... I can't say I'm surprised to see the island paradise state near the top.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2009


1. Utah: 69.2

In other news, someone has invented magical underwear powerful enough to prevent people from dying of boredom.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:02 PM on November 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Most of the bottom states don't surprise me, as they are some of the poorest. The first one is a surprise, though.
posted by zinfandel at 4:02 PM on November 16, 2009


The third link triggered my anti-virus software - "Bloodhound.Exploit.193"
posted by brain_drain at 4:03 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


ADVISORY: Happiness derived from belief in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may not be available in your area.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:05 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Minnesota is always in the top five of everything good because we totally rule your face.
posted by nanojath at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


brain_drain, it's a LiveScience link. Weird.
posted by Taft at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2009


The first doesn't surprise me at all. I lived in Utah for a stint. Tons of open space, most people are quite religious (and really happy, content about it), it's relatively easy to live decently on next to nothing in large swaths of the state, drinking is practically illegal (hence all the healthy 'decisions'), its beautiful, and you can be by yourself.

Take it for what it's worth, but it's (outside of the booze thing) one of 'free-est' places I've lived.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Frankly this looks about as random as it gets. Not even talking about methodology, the spread is silly small. One can conclude nothing from this. First ten include Utah and Wyoming as well as California and Massachusetts. So... er... whatever.
posted by VikingSword at 4:09 PM on November 16, 2009


anyone is seattle claiming seasonal affective disorder should look at how Washington is in the top 10. or is it the bottom 45??!
posted by Glibpaxman at 4:09 PM on November 16, 2009


I've never met a person from Utah I didn't like.

On the other hand, there are huge swaths of the country where I've never met a person I didn't instantly take a hating to, for any number of reasons.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:10 PM on November 16, 2009


Wait, wait, scratch that. Just remembered the Mormons and Prop 8 in California. OK, so fuck those guys...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:11 PM on November 16, 2009


The number of bohemians (such as artists), gays and foreign-born residents also boosted happiness scores.

More gay people in your state make you happier? Well, duh!
posted by rtha at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah. The website tried to get me to enable Javascript in Reader, multiple times. Might be a malware drive-by at work.
posted by blenderfish at 4:17 PM on November 16, 2009


Yay, #35!

You can pry my unhealthy decisions and my neuroses from my cold, dead, fingers.
posted by kathrineg at 4:18 PM on November 16, 2009


FUCK YEAH WYOMING!

This is completely a subjective opinion, but I think people here are generally happier than they were in the other places I've lived. That being said, I'm not a big fan of study-induced conclusions like this.
posted by elder18 at 4:18 PM on November 16, 2009


This has a map with colors and stuff. Also breaks down by congressional district.
posted by floam at 4:19 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hereby invent(?) something called the jitter-plot: it's a way of demonstrating the margin of error.

This jitter-plot is a 5-second, 24fps animation: 120 frames. Alphabetically, left to right, each state's score is represented by a position on a plot, but the position is randomized within the margin of error, with a new, random position for each frame.

The resulting animation would demonstrate what the ranking obscures: There's almost no difference between 1st place and last place.
posted by Moistener at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


What struck me about the first five or so is that they're the types of places where it's pretty easy to know if you're the type of person who would be happy there, and equally easy to know if you're the type of person who would not be happy there. So the people who want to be there go there, boosting the happiness numbers, and the others stay away.

I lived in Utah for many years, and can totally see why the people there are happy there. However, I was pretty obviously not happy there and so I left. But would I be happy in Nebraska, or Connecticut, or Indiana? I have no idea.
posted by doift at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I bet if they took NYC as a distinct area, and reminded the individuals completing the surveys of car insurance and gas costs, we'd knock Utah right out of that #1 spot.
posted by griphus at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2009


yeah, less than 10 points on a scale of 100 isn't very significant... and, in my wife's math class, every damn one of them would fail with that score!
posted by HuronBob at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2009


The fact that DC tends to be left out of lists like this totally lowers my happiness meter.
posted by naoko at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Utah's average happiness got a big bump when I left it. And so did mine.
posted by gurple at 4:24 PM on November 16, 2009


When you look at the congressional districts it kind of starts to make a little more sense. Would be ever better if you could get a version where they just took into account people in the top n metropolitan areas and made an index available of those.
posted by floam at 4:25 PM on November 16, 2009


Possibly relevant:

Another survey released last week by drug distribution company Express Scripts found that residents of Utah were prescribed antidepressant drugs more than those of any other state and at twice the national average.
posted by gottabefunky at 4:25 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


EXACT CENTER, JERKS! GO JERSEY!

We're realistic, but not depressed. No other state can claim that!
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:27 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What struck me about the first five or so is that they're the types of places where it's pretty easy to know if you're the type of person who would be happy there, and equally easy to know if you're the type of person who would not be happy there. So the people who want to be there go there, boosting the happiness numbers, and the others stay away.

It's true. Nobody just ends up in Salt Lake.

Never the less I'm highly suspect of anything that includes people's opinions on how "happy" or satisfied they are. Because if there is one thing mainstream American society is virtually guaranteed to lie through their teeth about it's that. Our society is programmed with this idiot like fakey "I'm happy. Really. GOD DAMN IT I AM SO HAPPY" thing.
posted by tkchrist at 4:28 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


residents of Utah were prescribed antidepressant drugs more than those of any other state

Bingo.
posted by tkchrist at 4:29 PM on November 16, 2009


Ooh, the Congressional district map is REALLY fun! (Still though, no data available for DC here either? What, did you just skip it? It's got more residents than Wyoming, folks. Can we sic Eleanor Holmes Norton on the people who did these studies?)
posted by naoko at 4:29 PM on November 16, 2009


>
The completely uncontroversial moral of the story: Drugs and religion are the answer.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:29 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bet the fact that nobody in Utah will admit to smoking or drinking led to them being ranked artificially high on the 'Healthy Behaviors' section of the test.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:32 PM on November 16, 2009


I bet the fact that nobody in Utah will admit to smoking or drinking led to them being ranked artificially high on the 'Healthy Behaviors' section of the test.

Do you know a lot of Utahn Mormons? Because the ones I know really actually don't smoke or drink.
posted by gurple at 4:34 PM on November 16, 2009


Utah leads nation in use of antidepressants. So, the takeaway is that antidepressants work.
posted by dortmunder at 4:34 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Happiest US states are wealthy and tolerant, Utah tops list

Wait, wasn't it Mormons who bankrolled Yes on 8 and turned the Boy Scouts into the Neoconservative Good Ol' (Straight and Christian) Boys Club?

e index includes six types of well-being: overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction.

I see. The No Booze, No Coffee, No Smokes lifestyle must have pushed them over.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:35 PM on November 16, 2009


Third link also got my virus software all fired up.
posted by dchrssyr at 4:41 PM on November 16, 2009


It does not surprise me that Maine is middling sub-average.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:43 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


gurple: Do you know a lot of Utahn Mormons? Because the ones I know really actually don't smoke or drink.

One of my college roommates was a mormon and I think he was originally from Utah. And I believe he did more of that sort of thing than anyone else I've ever lived with.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:44 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The top states may surprise you.

Okay, I get being in a cult makes you happy, and I get being in a tropical paradise makes you happy, and know nothing about Wyoming, Colorado or Minnesota except they sound kind of boring, but Maryland? I was was given to understand that it was a cracked-out hell hole. And then the biggest suprise at 7.... Washington!

/looks out at window at rain and darkness.

I mean what the fuck?
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on November 16, 2009


>One of my college roommates was a mormon and I think he was originally from Utah.

Once Mormons wander off, I think, they start acting about like you'd expect -- some of them stick to the straight-and-narrow, some don't. But in Utah, sticking to the straight and narrow is fantastically easy, compared to other places. It's in the water.

Sometimes I think alcoholics should just move to Utah and become Mormons, rather than mess around with AA. AA surrounds you with people who are all trying not to drink. Utah surrounds you with people who think drinking is evil, and actually don't do it, and never talk about it.

(source: 7 regrettable years in Utah)
posted by gurple at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2009


Third link crashed my browser, placing me in a very unhappy state indeed.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:54 PM on November 16, 2009


This is obviously a major YMMV sort of study. That said, I live in Hawaii, our economy is tanking, our school system is being systematically being destroyed and we don't have any professional sports. Oh, and we were the first to vote down gay marriage.

And I still wake up smiling every day because, fuck, I live in Hawaii.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:56 PM on November 16, 2009


I'm partial to the the Liminal State: Pretty country. Not much to do. Goooo Liminal State Bobcats!

FYI: Bloodhound.Exploit.193 - Risk Level 1: Very Low. Bloodhound.Exploit.193 is a heuristic detection for files attempting to exploit the Adobe Flash Player Multimedia File Remote Buffer Overflow.

If you have FlashBlocker, you should be golden. If not ... I'm not sure what it does. So without further ado, the whole frickin' list!

1. Utah: 69.2
2. Hawaii: 68.2
3. Wyoming: 68
4. Colorado: 67.3
5. Minnesota: 67.3
6. Maryland: 67.1
7. Washington: 67.1
8. Massachusetts: 67
9. California: 67
10. Arizona: 66.8
11. Idaho: 66.8
12. Montana: 66.7
13. New Hampshire: 66.7
14. Vermont: 66.6
15. Virginia: 66.5
16. Nebraska: 66.4
17. New Mexico: 66.3
18. Oregon: 66.3
19. Connecticut: 66.3
20. Alaska : 66.2
21. Texas: 66.1
22. Kansas: 66.1
23. Georgia: 66.0
24. Wisconsin: 65.9
25. New Jersey: 65.8
26. South Carolina: 65.7
27. Iowa: 65.6 - 27/50
28. North Dakota: 65.5
29. Maine: 65.5 - 29/50
30. Florida: 65.3 - 30/50
31. Illinois: 65.2 - 31/50
32. Pennsylvania: 64.9
33. Alabama: 64.9
34. North Carolina: 64.8
35. New York: 64.7
36. Delaware: 64.7
37. Rhode Island: 64.6
38. Nevada: 64.5
39. South Dakota: 64.3
40. Louisiana: 64.2
41. Michigan: 64.0
42. Tennessee: 64.0
43. Oklahoma: 64.0
44. Missouri: 63.8
45. Indiana: 63.3
46. Arkansas: 62.9
47. Ohio: 62.8
48. Mississippi: 61.9
49. Kentucky: 61.4
50. West Virginia: 61.2
posted by filthy light thief at 4:57 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Because the ones I know really actually don't smoke or drink.

Don't drink? My god? How do they prevent dehydration? Lick the morning dew off of leaves? Eat jello salad? How?

Since my family is like 80% Mormon, and generally in my experience most Mormons themselves are usually 75% Jack/25% Practicing. Until they have kids. Or turn 60 and start staring Death in the face. Then suddenly it's "Oh Sweet Heavenly Father! I never smoked or drank the devil water! Please give me my own planet!" The closer they get to having teen age daughter or to dying time the more the needle points to 100% Blessed-Angel-Moroni-Blow-Your-Horn Mormon.

My Uncle Jack, was a "devout" Mormon. Devout when the Book didn't interfere with serious drinking. He tolerated a little God getting in the way of whimsical drinking. Helluva man. Made more money not raising potatoes in the Gem Valley than anybody ever before him or since.

Uncle Jack died in a car accident. Correction. A pick-up truck accident. No man with a pair would be caught dead dying in car when he had Ford Pick-up to die in. Not done in Idaho Ranching country. He died on a Sunday. Racing the icy roads of South Eastern Idaho. Racing to the only discretely open bar on Sunday in a Mormon town. The bar where all the other good Mormons never quite totally avoided to practice resisting temptation on their way back from Church.

When we read Jacks will he left my dad a Stetson, My cousin Mike got his two honky-tonk suits. And my Aunt Afton along with the ranch and farm inherited his share of the bar of which he was part owner.

There were a good deal of thirsty nervous Good Mormons in Soda Springs that week twisting their hats in sweaty palms wondering if that discrete little establishment was a get'n shut down in accordance with the laws of the Lord.
posted by tkchrist at 4:57 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


[Nixed the third link just to be safe.]
posted by cortex at 4:58 PM on November 16, 2009


Artw:
I think it goes something like this:
Interviewer: "Are you happy?"
Washingtonian: "Well... everyone seems so miserable around here... I guess by comparison I am, then..."

Conclusion: 62% of Washingtonians are happy!
posted by qvantamon at 5:01 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps this
http://www.livescience.com/culture/091110-happy-states.html
from the same source at a different time, helps to explain how the rankings got to be as they are.
posted by Postroad at 5:02 PM on November 16, 2009


>in my experience most Mormons themselves are usually 75% Jack/25% Practicing

Interesting! It's perfectly possible that we've just been surrounded by different subgroups of Mormons. Are most of your family in Utah / Southern Idaho? My experience, I should explain, is entirely with folks who grew up in suburban Ogden and stuck around Northern Utah.

It's also possible that a lot of those folks are more jack than I realize; but with several of 'em, I'm pretty darn sure that's not the case.
posted by gurple at 5:03 PM on November 16, 2009


/looks out at window at rain and darkness.

I mean what the fuck?


NO SHIT!

I am so over it. I pretended for years. I went hiking, running, sailing, even played tennis in the rain. With this idiot fake grin plastered on my face. And then I broke. It got to me. Look at it outside? LOOK AT IT! Only serial killers and fungus are happy in this shit.

Then the gods sent a blessing. We got a hotel client in Hawaii two years ago. The first thing I do when we get there is send a postcard to "Seattle" that just says "FUCK YOU! I AIN'T NEVER COMING BACK! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" scrawled on the back.
posted by tkchrist at 5:08 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anecdotally, it seems every other person I meet here in Colorado thinks of the place as Valhalla. I mostly find it pleasantly dull.
posted by jal0021 at 5:11 PM on November 16, 2009


I went hiking, running, sailing, even played tennis in the rain.

Surfing. Rain don't matter, and it keeps the crowds down.
posted by gurple at 5:11 PM on November 16, 2009


The number of bohemians (such as artists), gays and foreign-born residents also boosted happiness scores.

But that's just SATAN deceiving them.
posted by qvantamon at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2009


Weather-wise, Colorado is the opposite of Washington. So now you know where to move!

Bring sunblock, gallons of lotion, and a humidifier!
posted by kathrineg at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2009


If income is the main factor, I'm definitely not reading The Spirit Level now, but I think it concluded that Utah ranked well because of low levels of societal inequality. Can someone with more time than me run a quick correlation of this list against median household income?
posted by roofus at 5:19 PM on November 16, 2009


Bring sunblock, gallons of lotion, and a humidifier!

And a snow shovel.
posted by jal0021 at 5:23 PM on November 16, 2009


I've lived in Utah for a much larger portion of my life than I'd care to admit on this site, and it used to be I thought that not only were there better places, that most places had to be better.

After taking some time a few years ago to wander around the United States, randomly staying in a bunch of places until I felt like I had some basic feel for what they were like, essentially shopping for a new home.... well, I'm not going to hit the cliche "And I found that the best place was my own back yard!" quite as hard as one might (I could go on about how great I think a number of places are), but once I was done, I was surprised how well Utah stacked up for a lot of the things I valued.

Most of my time since then has been spent in California, but I've had some very happy months back in Utah as well. It has its problems, but I don't find it at all incredible that a lot of people find some genuine happiness there.
posted by weston at 5:31 PM on November 16, 2009


"...healthy decisions..."

I decided to leave the US altogether, which for me was a very healthy decision!

[NOT USA-IST]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:32 PM on November 16, 2009


I always tell people that Utah is pretty good (and I could conceivably imagine going back at some point,) as long as you stay in SLC.
posted by blenderfish at 5:34 PM on November 16, 2009


If you follow the link to see the full list at livescience, it's definitely malware. Malwarebytes can't even take care of it for me :(
posted by signalandnoise at 5:41 PM on November 16, 2009


It does not surprise me that Maine is middling sub-average.

Damn skippy, and you'll note that four out of the other five New England states are clustered together in the teens, with Massachusetts actually making the Top Ten. On the other hand, it apparently really SUCKS to be in Rhode Island, so at least Maine has something to be glad of.
posted by briank at 5:42 PM on November 16, 2009


sobs quietly in the corner
posted by dilettante at 5:47 PM on November 16, 2009


Look at it outside? LOOK AT IT! Only serial killers and fungus are happy in this shit.

Moss isn't a fungus, and clearly the Lesser Seattle movement is still working.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:48 PM on November 16, 2009


Utah is the western equivalent of an Arkansas or Louisiana at their worst. The fact that they can send their young people all over the globe on missions and yet maintain their own particular form of insularity should be telling. The LDS church had been quite effective at removing various temptations from their culture, without understanding that the absence of such temptations does not equate to virtue. They are adept at maintaining appearances, as Utah's place at the top of this list demonstrates. Scratch the surface, though and you'll find some pretty ugly shit going down out there.

I got no cites to cite, but nine years living among them should count for something, if you're observant (I was.) In the end Mormons simply end up with a different set of bad habits along with all the maladies that follow from them. Fine people in many ways, but so very limited by the strictures of their upbringing. They certainly don't belong at the top of any list of the happiest state, though. That's a sad joke right there.
posted by metagnathous at 5:51 PM on November 16, 2009


I think Utah is number one because they would rather gouge out their eyes then tell you they're unhappy. Not polite you know.
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This has a map with colors and stuff.

Wow, a green-blue-orange-brown choropleth? That is a major Cartography 101 FAIL right there, yessiree.

(And I guess the moral here is if you live near the Ohio or lower Mississippi Rivers, you're going to be miserable?)
posted by kittyprecious at 6:07 PM on November 16, 2009


I was going to be all bummed about Ohio being so low on the list, but then I realized that's how they want me to react! I'm actually deliriously happy, pollsters! So nyah!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:08 PM on November 16, 2009


FYI: I see the direct link is nixed, but the MSNBC article ALSO links to livescience.com, which just gave my computer digital herpes and forced a System Restore.
posted by brookedel at 6:08 PM on November 16, 2009


From the last 5 or so of the list, it looks like places that are really bad for allergies have unhappy people. Who knew that breathing mattered so much?
posted by dilettante at 6:22 PM on November 16, 2009


Seven out of the ten happiest states voted for Obama. Seven out of the ten unhappiest states voted for McCain.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:25 PM on November 16, 2009


49. Kentucky

Yup, that sounds about right! It is pretty much a hopeless wasteland. Of course, #15 also feels like a hopeless wasteland at the moment, so who the fuck knows.

My home, Kentucky, 5th District

Well-Being Index 56.2 - 435/435
Life Evaluation 17.3 - 435/435
Work Quality 52.4 - 162/435
Basic Access 75.8 - 411/435
Healthy Behavior 56.9 - 433/435
Physical Health 64.7 - 435/435
Emotional Health 70.3 - 435/435

Yeah.
posted by little e at 6:36 PM on November 16, 2009


Almost Heaven: West Virginia...
John Denver lied to me!
posted by agentofselection at 6:36 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I think Utah is number one because they would rather gouge out their eyes then tell you they're unhappy."

This rings very true.

Utahns are very good at simulating the appearance of happiness.

They're also heavily medicated.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:46 PM on November 16, 2009


Well-Being and Obesity maps appear inversely correlated. It makes me wonder how much the other factors mattered in the survey.
posted by jet_silver at 6:52 PM on November 16, 2009


Minnesota is always in the top five of everything good because we totally rule your face.
posted by nanojath


This reminds me to post my favorite Atmosphere song:

The women outnumber the men two to one
Got parks and zoos and things to do with my son
The nightlife ain't all that, but that's okay
I don't need to be distracted by the devil every day

posted by elmer benson at 7:00 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whooooo Utah. I *gasp* like living here. I'm gay and live in a tight knit community (nothing brings people closer together like a common adversity) and it's surprisingly easy to drink here. Seriously. We might have 3.2 beer but you'll only find that if you go to shitty corporate places like Applebees. Every good local restaurant buys their beer from the state liquor stores or from one of a very large and diverse local brewer. Now there's another conversation about government control of private lives in here with the DABC but it's hardly a problem getting it, at least for me who can walk to the liquor store. My money goes insanely far and the economy is not exposed to the wide swings of places like Phoenix or Las Vegas. Yup I like that top score.
posted by msbutah at 7:05 PM on November 16, 2009


Utah leads nation in use of antidepressants. So, the takeaway is that antidepressants work.

Or is it that Mormonism ... doesn't?
posted by krinklyfig at 7:11 PM on November 16, 2009


I lived in Utah for 5 years. those people don't know what happiness is. so their answers don't count.
posted by sineater at 7:13 PM on November 16, 2009


Atrw: but Maryland? I was was given to understand that it was a cracked-out hell hole.

Maryland is ranked the second wealthiest and most educated state. The Wire is not the last word on Maryland.
posted by spaltavian at 7:18 PM on November 16, 2009


Permit me to explain some of the puzzling results on the list:

1. Utah: Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Wolverine Cirque, etc.
3. Wyoming: Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, the Tetons in general.
4. Colorado: Silverton, A-Basin, Telluride, Loveland, Winter Park, Steamboat, Monarch, endless touring, the 14ers...and yes, Breckenridge, Aspen and Vail.
7. Washington: Slackcountry kings Alpental, Crystal, Stevens and best of all: Baker!

Glad I could be of service.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:35 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had known we had so many states! Where have they all come from? Golly, we are getting very big. Hope we can care for all these people.
posted by Postroad at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2009


I lived in Utah for 5 years. those people don't know what happiness is. so their answers don't count.

Mormons are pressured to self-report happiness, because their religion is failing them if not. Or we could speculate that twice the national average in personal bankruptcies leads to happiness.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


States that have had The Drunkening.

1) Illinois

The rest of you all just have teh suck.
posted by eriko at 7:57 PM on November 16, 2009


Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that Utah is #1 in ordering porn through the mail. So, the formula for happiness is: (porn+antidepressants+LDS)-(drinking+smoking)=happiness

I'm waiting for a phone call from the Nobel guys.
posted by VikingSword at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2009


I live in Utah. I am a Mormon. I have kids. I have depression.

I AM HAPPY.

I live in Ogden. I am 15 minutes away from amazing National Parks. We spend all summer camping, fishing, and playing at Pineview or Causey Reservoirs, we ride our bikes on the Ogden River Parkway. It is an amazing place for people who love the outdoors.

My kids spend the winter making snow people in the back yard or reading by our fireplace, when they aren't watching Spongebob or Phineas and Ferb. We go to the library or the awesome Dinosaur Park. We shop at the local health food store and Target. We have good doctors and nice hospitals. Public transportation is usually reliable and on time.

I was raised Mormon, but not in Utah. Utah Mormons are their own brand of crazy. I grew up travelling because my dad was in the Army. The people here take some getting used to. You learn to take it all with a grain of salt. My faith is not affected by the craziness of my neighbors.

My best friend is Chinese, there are more Hispanic non-Mormons at my kids' school than white Mormons.

Provo is suppposed to be one of the best cities in the country for new businesses and Utah is supposed to have a pretty low rate of unemployment.

People smile at each other on the street. Yeah, people are polite. That's one of the things that makes it nice to live here.

Is it possible that wide open spaces, clean air, friendly people, jobs, affordable housing, and diversity could be the reason that people are happy here? Not just the antidepressents and all the cults.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:29 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I live in the unhappiest state in the nation. Great.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2009


Like any good Alabama resident, I glanced at the list, made sure we were ranked higher than Mississippi, thought, "Ha!", and went on with my evening.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:59 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


but Maryland? I was was given to understand that it was a cracked-out hell hole.

Yeah, Maryland isn't just Baltimore. Once you get outside the DC-Balto corridor (which has a name, but it escapes me at the moment), there's lots of pretty green stuff. To the west, pretty, green and hilly; to the east, pretty, green and flat. Take your pick.

Sure, it has rednecks, but it also has a lot of awesomes.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:21 PM on November 16, 2009


so my state's just below louisiana, tied with tennessee and oklahoma and just two points above mississippi

life is hopeless

BUT WE BEAT OHIO!!!!!
posted by pyramid termite at 9:31 PM on November 16, 2009


Minnesota is always in the top five of everything good because we totally rule your face.

then why do so very many of your youth live in seattle and portland?
posted by rainperimeter at 10:52 PM on November 16, 2009


Keep in mind, everybody, that it's just a mere eight points separating #1 from #50.

Which means at least a handful of states are filled with supremely deluded people.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:26 AM on November 17, 2009


BUT WE BEAT OHIO!!!!!

(weeps)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:45 AM on November 17, 2009


Most of the bottom states don't surprise me, as they are some of the poorest. The first one is a surprise, though.

Alabama and Mississippi are usually right next to one another on such lists. I'm shocked to find that Alabama is closer to the mean in this case. I wonder why?
posted by jefficator at 7:57 AM on November 17, 2009


it's just a mere eight points separating #1 from #50

Well, considering this isn't actually measuring any discrete units of anything, the order of precedence is pretty much the point.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2009


I'm not surprised to see that Rhode Island scored so low. Corruption... joblessness...harsh winters... constantly being asked if your state is part of New York...

Yeah. We can get a little cranky.

It interests me for no reason whatsoever that my home state of Vermont is both 14th on this list and the 14th state to join the Union.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:45 AM on November 17, 2009


I'll give Utah props for being one of the most beautiful places on earth. That's true. It's harsh and brutal in winter but gloriously beautiful. However, it wont' be beautiful for long since it's state government is totally dominated by pro-pollution, strip-mall, development-no-matter-what, kill-em-all and let-god-sort-it-out types.

If the population of the state continues to grow at it's current rate more than another decade... kiss all that natural beauty good bye.
posted by tkchrist at 12:14 PM on November 17, 2009


Speaking of my home town, this gem of a YouTube.
posted by msbutah at 1:47 PM on November 17, 2009


Am I the only one to notice that AHIP - the American Health Insurance Providers lobby association - sponsored at least a portion of this Gallup study? Their logo is on the blue state/congressional button mid-way down on the right, and BLEUCH!

I'm a huge fan of the Gross National Happiness promoted by Bhutan, which this study seems to hint at... but if anything AHIP represents everything miserable about America right now.

Regardless of your views of the Congressional debate right now in DC, you gotta see that they put only one thing as their goal: profits over sick people. I don't doubt they want to be associated with something that sounds better than what they actually deliver. They're the group that invented the pre-existing condition clauses that send millions to personal bankruptcy court! They're the ones that put the fat profits of entitled company bureaucrats ahead of sick Americans.
posted by Schultzy at 1:51 PM on November 17, 2009


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