With its multitude of varying landscapes, diverse and activity-filled cities, strong economy, well-preserved natural wonders, and usually beautiful weather, we all know California is a great state to live in. And according to a new study, it may just be these environmental factors that make the state’s inhabitants the 10th happiest in the US.
So how does one measure and rank happiness anyway? WalletHub looked at 28 key metrics categorized in three key dimensions: 1) Emotional & Physical Well-Being, 2) Work Environment and 3) Community & Environment. These factors were pulled from four individual reports that indicated a correlation between the applied metrics and happiness.
On the emotional scale, contributing the most weight were self-reported levels of satisfaction, health, adequate sleep, and binge drinking. Other emotional factors include sport participation rate, life expectancy, depression rate, and the hedonometer rank as measure by the personal expression of hedonism on social media.
The work and community environment also carried weight in the stats, with factors including job/financial security, commute time, number of work hours, volunteerism rate, leisure time, safety, and weather ranking (which not surprisingly had Sacramento cities littered throughout the top spots in the nation).
California fell in line at various rankings, coming in as the 2nd least depressed state with the 6th lowest obesity rate and the 9th lowest suicide rate. The divorce and safety ranking both earned the #19 spot on the list of 50 states and fell right in the middle as the 23rd least sleep deprived state and the 24th hedonometer ranking.
With these rankings contributing to the overall weight, California earned the #5 spot in the nation for emotional and physical well-being, #6 for community and environment, and (the factor that put us at 10 instead of perhaps an even higher ranking) #37 for work environment.
The next closest West Coast state is Washington as the 12th happiest state in the US and Oregon as the 32nd.
The top 5 happiest states according to the study are Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Colorado. Utah beat them all due to its high work and community environment rate. The highest emotional and physical well-being rate is given to Minnesota, Hawaii, and Colorado.
So what’s the take away? California has a multitude of great factors that contribute to the emotional and physical well-being of its inhabitants, deservedly earning us a top spot on the nation’s happy meter. But it may do us some good to spend more time working less, enjoy listening to audio books or music on our long commutes, and finding more joy in the things money can’t buy since our high cost of living makes the things money can buy accessible on a smaller scale.
To view the full report, visit wallethub.com.
Photo by Joshua Chun