A week or so ago I ran across a survey listing the top 10 happiest states in the country. This was an annual poll by Gallup — a credible firm and not some quack outfit — in which they interviewed more than 178,000 Americans in all 50 states.
Among many questions pollsters asked was how content the residents were in their states, queried about their mental and physical health and wanted to know how they rated their communities.
So, a rousing drum roll please – here are the 10 happiest states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa.
Surprised at this interesting list? It certainly is not what most of us would expect. The nation’s heartland and the so called “fly over” states (because supposedly nobody wants to stop there) won out big time. Only one coastal state and one state boasting a top metropolitan area made the list. You have to hand it to the west and midwest for wowing their residents as they garnered nine out of the 10 spots.
Someone once said that happiness is in the heart of the beholder. I firmly believe in that. And if you get to the right page in the dictionary, it says something about happiness being fortunate to enjoy contentment. And to me all that trumps the scientific research stuff.
Last Saturday morning, over bottomless cups of steaming coffee, my wife Marge and I got on this happiness topic. After all, these happy people live, most likely, in small towns or on farms in isolated rural areas and we thought that their life in the prairie or mountain states is simpler and more family oriented. Marge said she could see families on a snowed in night playing board games or maybe reading out loud, just like we used to when we were growing up. And she could almost hear the happy shouts of kids in town in the summer playing kickball in the street.
Maybe we were overcome by nostalgia of what once was. But folks in 10 states are obviously living the good life.
And when I first looked at this state list it reminded me of the Prairie Home Companion, the public radio variety show from Minnesota, heard every Saturday night by more than four million listeners on more than 600 radio stations. It’s here that Garrison Keiller does his weekly commentary about life in Lake Wobegone, “Where all the women are strong and all men are good looking.” Now that’s happiness…