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Sunny Disposition

Washington is the 7th happiest state according to a new study; Idaho is No. 12

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ALISSIA BLACKWOOD MEAD PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
  • Alissia Blackwood Mead photo illustration

How happy are you? Compared to your friends in other states, would you say you're way more happy than your Oregon bros, but maybe not as stoked on life as your Florida friends? Can you prove it?

You may not have time to conduct research on your comparative happiness, but thankfully, the people at WalletHub.com have taken it upon themselves to do it for you in a new report.

First, they convened a panel of psychology and philosophy professors from across the country to determine just what constitutes happiness. The panel came up with 25 metrics, including having enough, but not too much, money (happiness levels off at about $75,000 a year), being physically healthy, having a satisfying job, being socially engaged and having a safe place to live, among other things. Using numbers from research previously conducted by such august groups as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, states were scored in three categories: "Emotional and Physical Well-Being," "Work Environment" and "Community, Environment and Recreational Activities." Finally, states were ranked according to a weighted average of those three.

So after all the number crunching, how did we do? You'll no doubt be happy to learn that Washington ranks seventh in overall happiness; Idaho comes in at No. 12. Not too shabby on either score. In the subsets of "Work Environment" and "Community, Environment and Recreational Activities," Washington ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Washington's barely in the top half, though, at 22nd, in "Emotional and Physical Well-Being." Of particular concern is the finding that Washington and Oregon are the two states with the highest rates of depression.

On a happier note, Washington is tied for third (with Vermont) in the rate for sports participation; maybe all that exercise helped Washington rank 11th lowest in obesity rate.♦

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