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On a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the best, how do you rate your personal sense of well-being and happiness?
Top 10 Happiest and Most Miserable States

It's no surprise that paradise on Earth--otherwise known as Hawaii--is the happiest state. But coming in right behind it are Colorado, Minnesota and Utah.

Leading the list of most miserable states are West Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi.

So if it's not beautiful, sunny weather and warm temperatures that make people happy, what is it?

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, ranked all 50 states for their well-being, based on a survey of 1.7 million Americans. They took into account such factors as their emotional health, life evaluation, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to health insurance, food, shelter and medicines.

The top 10 happiest states with the highest sense of well-being:
1. Hawaii
2. Colorado
3. Minnesota
4. Utah
5. Vermont
6. Montana
7. Nebraska
8. New Hampshire
9. Iowa
10. Massachusetts

The top 10 most miserable states with the lowest sense of well-being:
1. West Virginia
2. Kentucky
3. Mississippi
4. Tennessee
5. Arkansas
6. Alabama
7. Ohio
8. Louisiana
9. Indiana
10. Oklahoma

Fun facts to know and tell:

  • The stark difference between No. 1 and No. 50: Almost 60 percent of Hawaii's residents say they are thriving in life versus just 45 percent in West Virginia who say the same thing.

  • People who live in the states with the highest well-being scores tend to smoke less, exercise more and try to learn new things every day. They also have more energy and fewer health problems.

  • The happier states have lower poverty rates and higher median incomes than the states deemed most miserable.

  • The top 10 happiest states have unemployment rates that are lower than the national average.

  • Each of the top 10 happiest states was ranked in the list of top 15 states with the highest proportion of adults who have earned a high school diploma.

  • Of the 10 states with the lowest well-being scores, eight are located in the South. This has been the case since the survey began in 2008.

  • West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas and Mississippi have ranked in the bottom 10 every year since the survey began.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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