What makes someone have a positive outlook, a greater sense of well-being? "When you have your health, you have everything." But Gallup said that's not the only thing to look at.
In its “Well-Being Index,” Gallup determined which Americans are in the best shape physically and emotionally by also measuring work opportunities, emotional health, even dental care.
Turns out the happiest Americans are not necessarily those making the most money, though in some cases they are. Gallup reports the two largest communities with the highest sense of well-being are San Jose and San Francisco, California, home to the tech billionaires and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.
But California as a whole is not feeling too good about itself compared with others. "Colorado, for example, is always at or near the best in the nation for the lowest obesity rate," reports Gallup. "Utah has the fewest smokers. Massachusetts has boasted the highest level of residents with health insurance all six years. New Jersey has the lowest levels of depression. And Vermont rules America every year in produce consumption."
Wait, New Jersey has the lowest level of depression? Has someone told Tony Soprano?
But none of these states has the best state of mind overall. Here are the top five places in America where people feel good about themselves.
Montana has the lowest obesity rate in America and the highest job satisfaction. In Great Falls, the air is so clean that 60 percent of residents exercise at least 30 minutes three days a week. Even more eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. (Those people make me sick.)
Minnesotans are a busy, boisterous, upbeat bunch. They consider themselves very energetic (89 percent said they have "a lot of energy"), they're optimistic, and they take good care of their teeth.
Folks in the Cornhusker state don't exactly exhibit the healthiest behaviors, yet they rank first in "life evaluation." One reason? They may not be hitting the treadmill, but they are hitting the sack. Three out of four Nebraskans consider themselves "well rested."
#2 South Dakota
South Dakota is showing up on just about every "best state" list these days. Gallup said this is where the happiest Americans live. The state ranks very high in emotional health, work environment, and basic access to health care.
#1 North Dakota
What's with the Dakotas? North AND South topping a “best states” list? Gallup found that residents in North Dakota were in the best physical shape in the country--must be all that oil drilling--even though they rank in the bottom half for healthy behaviors. They also have the fewest headaches, and they love their work environment more than anyone else, with 68 percent feeling more like a partner than an employee. The state also has very low levels of communicable disease. Maybe that's because people live so far apart (and maybe that's why they're so happy).
By the way...
The state with the worst sense of well-being is West Virginia, for four years in a row. It ranks dead last in all categories but one--work environment, where it's 14th in the nation. Which state has the worst work environment?
- emotional health