By Eli Wallace


By Phil Armitage [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The West is officially the Best. In a recent Gallup poll, the top ten happiest states in the Union lie West of the Mississippi.

With sweeping mountain vistas, unparalleled outdoors opportunities, a robust natural and organic product sector, and a handful of that Western do-it-yourself-er independent chutzpah, Colorado’s #6 ranking doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Hawaii, ranked second, also seems predictable; both Colorado and Hawaii have ranked in the top ten for the last nine years.

But the other top-ten-ers might raise a few eyebrows.

In order, here’s the list:

1. Alaska

2. Hawaii

3. South Dakota

4. Wyoming

5. Montana

6. Colorado

7. Nebraska

8. Utah

9. New Mexico

10. Texas

That’s right: Alaskans are happier than Hawaiians, and South Dakotans have somehow beat out Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.

This might have to do with the poll’s methods, which uses 176,000 phone interviews to put together a well-being index, made up of five factors: purpose, social, emotional, physical and financial.


But before you pack your bags and head to the Last Frontier (which is arguably space, anyway), it’s important to note that fluctuations in the list can be dramatic from year to year. North Dakota, which ranked first in 2014, has fallen to 23rd this year possibly due to repercussions from its energy boom.

The least happy state? West Virginia, which seems to be on a streak.

41. Missouri (put your Misery jokes aside, thanks)

42. Michigan

43. Arkansas

44. Tennessee

45. Alabama

46. Mississippi

47. Ohio

48. Indiana

49. Kentucky

50. West Virginia

Public health professionals warn there’s a lag between changes in a state and its perceived differences; so not all hope is lost, West Virginia.

With snow heading our way this weekend and a sunny week ahead, all those Great Outdoors activities should be especially available to the Centennial State in the coming weeks. Now that’s something to be happy about.

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