Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where do the happy people live? The Declaration of Independence asserts our right to the pursuit of happiness. I have been searching happiness for many decades and there have been many potholes in that road. Many people say at least that they have happiness in their lives. I find it difficult with the greedy mortgage companies taking our homes away, with the greedy banks charging unbelievable overdraft fees, with the greedy oil companies daily raising the price of gas for no reason. I guess the people behind those desks are really happy. Money certainly can help greatly in the pursuit for happiness and that is how the ultra rich has found it. How can the regular guy find it?
Some people say happiness is a state of mind. The fact is that some places are happier than others. Yes, someone has been ranking happiness for many years and has found a place where people are very happy. Most people here exercise or do something fun before work. Where you live can contribute greatly to your happiness. Here is Bolder, Colorado. If happiness is a state of mind, than Bolder is its capital.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has been conducting a 25 year study of American’s overall satisfaction with life. This Gallup poll talks to over 1,000 people every night of the year; so, at the end of the year they have captured 350,000 respondents. Since 2008 they have interviewed over a million people. Enough to map our happiness . No surprise, on a state wide level, Hawaii tops the list.
Well being is not just measured by good weather. Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado are next. No southern states made the list. Overall, Americans are pretty happy. 91% say we are very happy (48%) or fairly happy (43%). That leaves that just 9% could be happier. The Gallup Poll digs deeper beyond general happiness. It also gathers data on over 50 aspects on overall well being. Like anger, headaches, obesity, medical problems like diabetes, heart attacks or high blood pressure among people.
It tabulates emotional to physical health to how satisfied we are at work. It gathered data in 188 metropolitan areas from highest to lowest. Bolder, Colorado is at the top of the list. Why? The people there are healthy. Obesity and smoking is only 13% that helps them to be overall healthier. Stress is low.
What city is at the bottom of the happy list? Huntington ,West Virginia. It is a former coal mining town that doesn’t make much money there. It has a aging population, unemployment is a problem, they are obese and smoke a lot thus poor health. You cannot be happy when you are not healthy! Many problems exist simply due to lifestyle choices. These people choose to smoke, eat unhealthy stuff probably due to the stress of not having a decent job.
What can we do besides stop smoking, drinking exercise and move to Bolder, Colorado? There is a site called The Happiness Project where they decided to concentrate on one aspect of your life you want to change for your happiness and focus on that till you change it. What do you really want from life? Marriage, Money, Hobbies, Health? Concentrate on one aspect a month and YOU WILL BE HAPPIER!
Happiness can seem to be very complicated. A good place to start is with your body. Things like getting enough sleep, or exercise will give you the energy to focus on other needs. This is a prescription for life. Happiness is a journey not a destination best gotten by daily incremental changes in lifestyle. Despite all the health suggestions for well being, the most important factor is strong relationships with other people.
Show Up to the reunion or party or town event; call a relative. That means put the burger down, comb your hair, no time to smoke, smile, and speak! The core of the well being equation is that you have to take the step to feeling better and happier.

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