The news comes by way of the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which markets itself as the “first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being.”
The yearly report, says Fast Company, surveys 1,000 people every day for 350 days of the year, “asking them questions about work environment, physical health, emotional health, lifestyle behaviors like exercise and smoking, access to things like healthcare and food, and overall life satisfaction.”
Massachusetts ranked No. 10 based on the 2012 findings, with an overall well-being score of 68.1 (up from 67.4 in 2011). Hawaii pulled down the coveted No. 1 spot for the fourth year in a row, notching a score of 70.2.
Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont rounded out the top five spots, in that order; Nebraska, Montana, New Hampshire and Iowa completed the top 10.
Out of 189 metropolitan statistical areas surveyed, Boston ranked No. 31, Springfield No. 80 and Worcester No. 138. Barnstable cracked the top 10, coming in at No. 6. All of those areas excluding Worcester saw improved rankings from 2011.
As for the least happy states in 2012, the breakdown is as follows, ranked from happy to least happy.
- West Virginia
Massachusetts’ favorable ranking here is encouraging for two reasons.
First, I like the fact that the data was culled from conversations with actual residents, rather than statistical analysis of U.S. census data and other online indexes. It’s one thing, for example, to surmise that a rise in population could imply people are increasingly happy to live here; it’s something else entirely to hear what’s working and what’s not straight from residents’ mouths.
It also seems evident to me that happiness, as it’s defined here, has much to do with our access to an active lifestyle, as many of the states on the top 10 list conjure images of soaring peaks, lush forests and roaring rivers just waiting to be explored during a weekend respite from the nine-to-five.
Massachusetts may not be tossed around as one of our country’s most “outdoorsy” states. This list could change that, and rightfully so.