People who live in Hawaii are the happiest in the U.S. and have the most positive outlook, according to this year’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
It’s the third year in a row the survey has ranked Hawaii as the No. 1 state for well-being. North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, and Alaska rounded out the top five happiest states.
West Virginia scored lowest on well-being, but did slightly improve from last year.
The Well-Being Index score for the nation as a whole is the lowest since tracking began in 2008.
The rankings are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2011. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents ideal well-being. Hawaii’s score of 70.2 wasn’t perfect, but it topped the list.
Staying consistent with the trend for the past four years, Western and Midwestern states notched nine of the 10 highest well-being scores, while Southern states claimed half of the bottom 10 scores.
What Makes a Happy State?
The Well-Being Index is calculated based on six key areas:
• Life Evaluation: Alaskans ranked their lives as “thriving,” giving them the highest ranking in this category with a score of 60.2, while West Virginia residents ranked lowest on this scale at 41.1.
• Emotional Health: Hawaiians were the most likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot “yesterday” and were the least likely to report daily worry, stress, or depression, scoring at 83.3. Kentucky ranked lowest in emotional health with a score of 75.5.