By Haddon Libby

The Gallup Organization recently compiled 2.1 million surveys in order to capture how people feel about their daily lives. Termed the Well-Being Index, the data collected was split into five categories: Purpose, Social, Financial, Community and Physical.

Purpose was defined as liking what you do with yourself each day and feeling motivated to reach for goals. Social related to having supported relationships and love in your life. Financial measured a person’s ability to reduce the stresses of life through sound personal economics. Community was about a person liking where they live and feeling safe. Physical measured whether a person was healthy enough to achieve the things that they want to do each day.

While many of us in California feel that we live in the best place in the country with Golden Gates, Redwoods, beaches, idyllic weather and beautiful people, our state came in 14th. California ranked third in fitness, 14th in purpose and social, 25th in finances and 30th in a sense of community.


Just edging out our 50th state, Hawaii, for the top rankings was our 49th state, Alaska (ranked 16th last year). While being able to see Russia from their houses was not listed as one of the reasons why Alaskans felt good, they did cite their sense of purpose and the presence of a supportive community. Alaskans have the highest sense of purpose, 2nd best financial and physical rankings and 3rd best feelings on community. While Alaskans feel good about their finances, the state actually had the 5th worst job creation levels in the United States since 2007.

Hawaii came in second the top scores in finances and physical fitness. These results seem odd in that most of Hawaii’s job base is in lower paying jobs while having the costliest real estate market in the country not to mention high levels of obesity. Hawaii ranked 5th in both purpose and community – expected given their relative isolation.

South Dakota came in third and had the highest Social rankings. Low unemployment and relative remoteness were primary contributors. Neighbor North Dakota which had ranked #1 last year, had the highest job creation levels since 2007 due to growth in the oil industry.

Wyoming and Montana rounded out the top five, the latter with 94% of their people feeling happy with their jobs. Minnesotans ranked 11th and were the fittest in the nation.

People with the worst sense of well-being for the fifth year in a row were West Virginians. Only 45% of all West Virginians felt they were thriving in their lives. This state had more obese people and high blood pressure than any other state in the nation.

Rounding out the bottom five were Kentucky at #49 with the highest percentage of residents on prescription drugs, Indiana with a sense of blandness, Ohio with the angriest people and Mississippi with lowest financial stability as well as a population that generally hated their jobs. At #45, Alabama has the most people unable to afford food, shelter and medication.

Worth noting people in Illinois (ranked 36th) had the lowest sense of community while Rhode Island felt the lowest social support from family and loved ones.

The only state with more than half of its residents attending Church weekly was Utah (51%) followed by Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. As a whole, New Englanders were the least likely to go to Church with only 17% attending in Vermont, 20% in New Hampshire and Maine, 22% in Massachusetts and 25% in Connecticut.

The Gallup Organization also found that only 43.9% of all Americans work with a shockingly low 15% of all Americans feeling happy about their jobs – a sad reflection for the state of affairs in the present day America.