I say that with assurance and evidence provided by a scientific study. And this writer is happy that he lives in a state that ranks high on the “happy” list. If you will recall, I was rather “bummed” a few months ago, when another study ranked my current home city of Mobile, Alabama as a home for ugly men.
The two professors first relied on research from a 2005-2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System random sample of 1.3 million United States citizens in which life-satisfaction in each U.S. state was measured. People were asked about their health and just how satisfied they were with their life. This provided a table of happiness by US State. But the survey is/was subjective. How do you rely on someone’s self declared level of happiness? How do you know they are telling the truth?
Wu and Oswald state, “Researchers have, for decades, longed for a more clearly external scientific check on, and corroboration of, well-being survey answers.”
The researchers discovered data conducted in 2003 by Stuart Gabriel and colleagues from UCLA which considered objective indicators for each individual State of the USA such as: precipitation; temperature; sunshine; coastal land; inland water; public land; National Parks; hazardous waste sites; environmental “greenness”; commuting time; violent crime; air quality; local taxes; cost of living and other factors. This allowed the creation of a rank order of US states showing which should provide the happiest living experience. This was truly external data that could be used to check Wu and Oswald’s survey study.
When the data was combined, Oswald and Wu discovered that people were telling the truth. The “happiness” answers matched the data that would logically define a happy place to live. Citizens who described themselves as happy and satisfied tended to live in areas where it was warm, safe, secure and the cost of living wasn’t a stone around their necks.
And yeah those big states, like California (46) have sunshine and New York (Dead Last) have opportunity but the researchers also say they have a self-non fulfilling prophecy of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, because people rushed to them to “be happy” and wind up in crowded cities with a high cost of living, crime, and resulting unhappiness from those factors and others.
I kinda felt sorry for New York Times writer, Clyde Haberman as he tried to justify his city’s ranking as Number 51 out of 51 on the list. New York is a unhappy place to live, but Haberman states unhappiness could be a good thing, “More important, might contentment be overrated? Seriously, isn’t restlessness, even outright discontent, often a catalyst for creativity?”
Sounds to me like New Yorkers are getting a small taste of being on an “Ugly List”.
So, where are the happiest places to live in the United States?
8. South Carolina
That’s right, Alabama is in the Top 10. My home state of Mississippi is Number 6 and one of my favorite cities, New Orleans; is in the #1 Happiest State in America. And this study was conducted before the Saints won the Super Bowl. In fact, six of the top ten states were in The South. It’s about time, Southern states land on a list that’s good and doesn’t rank them last. New York will have to “get over it”; this time.
I knew it all along, but now, Science proves I’m happy living in Alabama.