With 50 percent of Americans saying they are “very satisfied” with the way their personal life is going, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2023’s Happiest States in America, as well as expert commentary.
To determine where Americans have the highest satisfaction with life, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 30 key indicators of happiness. The data set ranges from the depression rate and the share of adults feeling productive to income growth and the unemployment rate. Utah took the top spot followed by Hawaii at number two. California ranked seventh overall. Louisiana, at number 49, and West Virginia, at number 50, were the least happy states, according to the survey results.
Happiness in California (1=Happiest; 25=Avg.):
3rd – Percentage of Depressed Adults
12th – Adequate-Sleep Rate
6th – Suicide Rate
7th – Number of Work Hours
10th – Separation & Divorce Rate
1st – Income Growth
27th – Safety
18th – Share of Adults Feeling Active & Productive
For the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/happiest-states/6959
What are the key ingredients to a happy life?
“The key ingredients to a happy life are resources, purpose, and belonging. Resources are those things that help us do things like pay our bills and have some level of options in our lives. Not enough resources, and we can quickly feel trapped, stressed, and overwhelmed. But there is a ceiling on the amount of resources that help us feel happy and, we need a balance. We might think that more money or more resources would help us feel happier, but that often is not the case. An overabundance of things like money, for example, can often lead to loneliness and depression. This leads us to a sense of purpose. Often a meaningful and happy life has a calling, or purpose associated with it. This is why our vocation is so critical to our identity. A life without purpose can feel empty and hollow, but a life with purpose is engaging and often, filled with episodes of genuine happiness. Lastly, belonging is about knowing that we matter and that we belong in the space of our lives. Artifacts such as the kinds and quality of the conversations we have, or our familial unit (however that is defined), as well as our community, become important barometers of how happy we are. Belonging is not about being around people all the time or being surrounded by others constantly. Rather, belonging is knowing that you are valued for who you are and the unique gifts you bring into the world.”
Brad Shuck – Professor; ELOD Ph.D. Program Director, University of Louisville
How important is money to people’s happiness?
“Money is important as long as you need money to ensure your basic needs for food, safety, clothing, medical bills, housing, transportation, etc. are met. There is a threshold of income (that will vary based on the cost of living) over which increased income does not lead to increased happiness.”
Miriam Liss, Ph.D. – Professor, University of Mary Washington
“When one does not have money, it becomes very important! Numerous studies about the association between money and happiness show that having enough to provide the necessities of life (and a bit more) is the sweet spot for happiness, but that the association is not linear. Having more and more money does not guarantee happiness. If we look at the countries that score highest in terms of happiness, they are not characterized by the highest wealth levels but by more universal access to things that challenge happiness: they have universal health care, generous family support, and enable the pursuit of higher education without massive levels of debt. They enable more people to live solid middle-class lives rather than allowing a few lucky people to live very well off the hog. I wish we thought more about money from a societal level – how to spread the greatest good to more people – than focused on individual wealth and happiness. But residents of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway are happier (and more satisfied with their governments!) than residents of the U.S.”
Sharon Sassler – Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, The Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, Department of Sociology – Cornell University
How much does where you live influence your happiness?
“Where you live is important to the extent that it influences your ability to decrease stress, access support, and pursue the activities that promote your well-being and happiness- in particular, connecting with a healthy community. Being in a place that allows for outdoor exercise and connection with nature can help as well. But we all should be cautious about assuming that a change of scenery will lead to long-term changes in our level of happiness. Sustaining happiness requires a toolkit of strategies for overcoming challenges and processing negative emotions as well as integration of practices to promote positive emotions, and that toolkit is one we will need to carry with us wherever we live. One of the most important factors for sustaining happiness is participating in a supportive community and engaging in meaningful relationships, which take time to develop. Putting time and energy into strengthening the relationships where you live now may be a more effective mechanism for change than uprooting and moving to a new location.”
Eleanor D. Brown, Ph.D. – Professor; Director, Early Childhood Cognition and Emotions Lab (ECCEL); Co-Director, Research on Equity via the Arts in Childhood (REACH), West Chester University