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The 10 happiest states in America

Megan Willett
seward highway alaska

dcsl/flickr Seward Highway is one of Alaska's most famous drives. Alaska was ranked the happiest state in the US by the Gallup-Healthways 2014 well-being index. The latest 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index was released Thursday, and for the first time in the poll’s history Alaska is the happiest state in America.

It was followed by Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana to round out of the top five.   

The Gallup-Healthways data is based on over 176,000 interviews with US adults from January until December 2014. It tests five essential elements of well-being, including motivation to achieve goals (purpose), having positive relationships (social), economic satisfaction (financial), feeling safe and having pride in where you live (community), and taking care of your health (physical).

top 10 gallup well being index 2014

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2014 In addition to being the happiest state in the US, Alaskans also have the highest ranking in "purpose" or motivation to achieve life goals.

Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, told Business Insider that  Alaska’s ranking this year wasn’t a surprise given that it has finished in the top five states three other times since 2009.

"Alaskans led the nation in 2014 with the lowest levels of daily stress, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol," Witters said. "They also make good choices, including the lowest level of drug use in the US."

In addition to Health, Alaska's community well-being was strong. "Alaska is tops in the nation in having residents who help to improve their community, and is in the top five for feeling safe and secure," Witters added.

Hawaii ranked the highest for financial and physical health well-being while South Dakota was number one in both social and community well-being. 

The biggest drop on the list was North Dakota which earned the top spot on the 2013 list but fell to number 23 this year. The Gallup-Healthways press release said, “ North Dakota's drop was mostly attributable to a drop in its residents' overall life evaluation, coupled with worsened health-related behaviors such as higher smoking rates, reduced exercise, and less healthy eating compared with 2013.”

Hawaii and Colorado are still the only states to place in the top 10 every year since the poll began in 2008. Hawaii held the top spot for four years in a row until it was dethroned by North Dakota in 2013.

Check out the full state rankings below.

Gallup Healthways State of American Well Being_2014 State Rankings vFINAL

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2014

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