WASHINGTON — Disney World may be the happiest place on Earth, but apparently it’s not enough to make Florida the happiest state in America. Instead, if you want to spend time in the state that exudes the most happiness, you’ll have to leave the mainland and head to Hawaii, according to the 2018 rankings from WalletHub’s annual survey.
Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, and California rounded out the top five happiest states, according to the survey. The least happiest states were West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and Oklahoma.
Researchers looked at the environmental factors that seem to ultimately matter the most when it comes to a person’s well-being and overall feeling of satisfaction with life. They graded states on three key dimensions: Emotional & Physical Well-Being; Work Environment; and Community & Environment. To earn their grades, states were measured across 31 different factors related to the three dimensions, with some factors being weighted more heavily than others. That led to a number grade based on a 100-point scale, with a “100” representing the maximum level of happiness.
Researchers weighted depression rates for adults along with suicide rates as the heaviest factors in the Emotional & Physical Well-Being dimension, with life expectancy and illness/disability rates weighing slightly less. Number of work hours and job security were most important in the Work Environment dimension, while “ideal weather” and average leisure time per day were weighted the most for Community & Environment.
“Where we live has a huge influence on our level of happiness,” says Amanda Watson Joyce, an assistant professor of psychology at Murray State University, in a WalletHub release. “When we live somewhere with access to characteristics that are good for our health, like sunshine, fresh air, healthy foods, and good medical care, we tend to be happier.