Utah is the happiest among the happiest states, while West Virginia ranks last with respect to happiness. California comes in as number nine, but does it make the supposedly happiest states also the best places to retire or best places to live?
The Happiest States Identified
America’s Health Insurance Plans site features a wellbeing index that relies on Gallup data for its accuracy. Utah reaches a 69.2 on the wellbeing index, making it the happiest state. West Virginia only reached 61.2, making it the unhappiest state of the Union. California, with a 67.0 rating, holds number nine.
Evaluation Criteria for the Happiest States
Defining happiness is not an easy task, and the pollsters decided to use a questionnaire consisting of 40 inquiries that would grade wellbeing as being a mix of healthy behavior, a positive work quality, basic access to healthy food and disease prevention, life evaluations, physical health, and of course emotional health.
Utah and West Virginia versus California
In a happiest states throw down, it is interesting to note that happy or not, there are some things that make West Virginia not all bad and Utah not all good.
For example, when it comes to healthy behavior, Utah came in 13th, with California actually being ahead in 5th place. Healthy behavior refers to daily habits, established relationships and of course the biggies of smoking, a healthy diet, and exercise. It is interesting to note that while healthy behaviors are on the minds and hearts of Californians, when it comes to measurable physical health, they only rank 16th, with Utah coming in 7th.
No matter which way you slice it, West Virginia does not do well in this evaluation, and its one saving grace might be the work quality index, which has it coming in as 13th, trailing behind California that is 7th, and of course Utah which is 1st.
A Closer Look at CA
In an interesting twist, while California may not be the happiest state, it is considered to be one of the best places to live for those who are engaged in healthy behavior. At the same time, it ranks 33rd as having adequate basic access to healthy living quarters, fruits and veggies, healthcare, and so forth. How is this possible?
The numbers are debatable and some appear to be more perception based than factually traceable. This might explain the dichotomy between perceptions and actual raw data.
Does this mean that much like castles in the sky, Californians are visiting make believe gyms and rationalize questionable food choices as being healthy fare?