When it comes to happiness, Alaska residents seem to have it all figured out. The state ranks number one in a new poll ranking the happiest states in the nation. Dead last? That honor goes to West Virginia for the sixth time in six years.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is a poll of happiness that has been conducted for the last seven years. And while states have ebbed and flowed in the rankings, two states — Colorado (this year's #6) and Hawaii (#2) — have consistently maintained top 10 spots over the last 10 years.
So how did Alaska land the coveted spot? Albert Wall, director of the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health, was not at all surprised to see Alaska at the top of the list.
“Although we have our share of problems common to other states in the nation, almost all Alaskans live here by choice — for our beautiful surroundings, our sense of freedom and individuality, and our close ties with the land,” he said in an interview with the "Today" show.
Over the past seven years of polling, Alaska has been in the top 10 four times.
The Gallup-Healthways poll surveys Americans on their overall feelings of motivation, support, personal safety, physical energy, and financial satisfaction. This year's poll is based on interviews with more than 175,000 people across all 50 states.
At the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia ranked last (#50) on the happiness index. The second-to-last position was held by Kentucky, a state that has held that ranking for several years. One surprise for researchers was North Dakota, a state that held the number one spot in last year's survey but dropped to #23 in 2014.
Where does your state rank on the happiness index? Here are the top 10 and the bottom 10. For everything in between, go back to the poll website mentioned above to download the full report.
Top 10 happiest states in the U.S.:
3. South Dakota
9. New Mexico
10 states ranked lowest in happiness in the U.S.:
50. West Virginia
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