New York, NY, United States (AHN) – For the third consecutive year, Hawaii has taken the title as the happiest U.S. state in the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index.
It isn’t simply sunshine and warm weather that make people happy. North Dakota took the second spot, and Minnesota snagged third.
Ranking lowest were residents in West Virginia.
Western and Midwestern states fared well on the happiness index, a trend that has been consistent over the past four years, accounting for nine slots on the top 10 happiest states’ list. Meanwhile, despite their well-known and touted hospitality, Southern states slide into half of the bottom 10 states.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 2 and Dec 29, 2011, and included a random sample of 353,492 adults aged 18 and over in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
To rate happiness, the poll relied on six measures: life evaluation (present life situation and anticipated one in five years); emotional health; work environment; physical health; healthy behavior; and basic access (access to health care, a doctor, a safe place to exercise and walk, and community satisfaction).
The top 10 states in order include: Hawaii, North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Montana.
The bottom 10, also in order: West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Delaware, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Nevada.
The complete list is available at www.livescience.com.