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Minneapolis, MN | © James Kirkikis/Shutterstock
Minneapolis, MN | © James Kirkikis/Shutterstock
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You'll Never Guess What the Happiest State in America is

Picture of Nikki Vargas
Travel Editor
Updated: 13 December 2017
The question of happiness is one as old as time. What is happiness? How does one achieve happiness? Can one really ever attain it? Multiple variables determine happiness—from money to relationships to career. Now a new study suggests that finding happiness may just be a matter of moving to a new state.
In a recent study by WalletHub, an online financial site, the happiest state in America is revealed to be Minnesota, with California, Utah and (unsurprisingly) Hawaii coming in at a close second. In order to determine the happiest states in the country, WalletHub measured 28 key factors—from average depression rate to safety—across all 5o states.

According to WalletHub’s data, Minnesota was amongst the top states for best sleep rate, volunteer rate, lowest divorce rate and average safety. Similarly, out of all 50 states, Hawaii proved to have the lowest rate of adult depression. An unsurprising find when one considers the influence location can have on a person’s mindset.

“There are a lot of external influences on happiness,” Bradley H. Smith, Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston, told WalletHub. “Long periods of low sunlight and dreary weather decreases happiness and, in some extreme cases, may cause depression. On the positive side, being surrounded by scenic beauty is very healthy and happiness promoting.”

In line with Professor Smith’s expert opinion, WalletHub’s findings also suggest that scenic states—such as California, Utah, and Hawaii—prove a correlation between natural beauty and a positive outlook on life. Per the study’s findings: Utah proved to have the highest volunteer rate, lowest divorce rate and fewest working hours; while California had the highest sports participation rate and lowest depression rate.

States that proved to be the least happy included Alabama with the lowest adequate sleep rate, Vermont with the highest rate of adult depression, and New Mexico with the highest divorce rate. While WalletHub’s study seems to ultimately point to the idea that happiness is found outside of metropolitan hubs such as New York or Chicago, Jennifer Zwagerman, the Director of Career Development at Drake University, explains that happiness is ultimately in the eye of the beholder.

“People have huge differences of opinions as to what makes a location a great place to live, explains Zwagerman. “It’s a matter of finding the right mix of work, people, activities and a lifestyle that meets your goals.” So, whether you’re a city slicker who finds beauty in the concrete jungle of Manhattan, or a nature buff who prefers the serenity of Montana, our happiness is defined by more than just the place we call home.