The 10 happiest states in the U.S.: 1. Hawaii

2. Colorado

3. Minnesota

4. Utah

5. Vermont

6. Nebraska

7. Montana

8. New Hampshire

9. Iowa

10. Massachusetts

Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.



The 10 Happiest States In The U.S.

It’s not surprising that people in Hawaii are super happy. But the other states whose residents feel the best might surprise you.

Live in Hawaii, Colorado, or Minnesota? Chances are, you’re happier than your brethren in Mississippi, Kentucky, and West Virginia. That’s according to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The yearly report surveys 1,000 people each day for 350 days out of the year, asking them questions about work environment, physical health, emotional health, lifestyle behaviors like exercise and smoking, access to things like health care and food, and overall life satisfaction.

For the past four years, Hawaii has taken the top spot (it came in second in 2008). Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Minnesota have also remained in the top 10 for the last four years. Vermont, Iowa, and Nebraska, on the other hand, have jumped from being moderately happy states (Vermont was ranked at 27 in 2008) to the top 10. The last state on the top 10, Massachusetts, ranks first for basic access—unsurprising considering the state’s comprehensive health care laws. Here is the full top 10 list of the happiest states, ranked by their well-being scores.

  1. Hawaii
  2. Colorado
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. Vermont
  6. Nebraska
  7. Montana
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Iowa
  10. Massachusetts

And there are five states—West Virginia Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas—that have ranked at the bottom since 2008. This probably has a lot to do with poverty levels in those states—but more importantly, these states rank poorly on all of the factors surveyed. West Virginia is actually ranked 38th for "work environment," but 50th on everything else. Behold, the 10 least happy states in the country, ranked from happiest to least happy.

  1. Nevada
  2. Indiana
  3. Louisiana
  4. Ohio
  5. Alabama
  6. Arkansas
  7. Tennessee
  8. Mississippi
  9. Kentucky
  10. West Virginia

In 2011, Gallup used its statistical data to create a composite of the happiest person in the country based on finds about the traits that correspond with happiness. The New York Times reported on what that person would look like: "He’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year." Is happiness tied directly to wealth? Maybe not, but it certainly helps.

[Images: Shutterstock]

Add New Comment


  • It's obvious Gallup didn't visit North west PA. It's the most miserable, sad , sour place you will ever visit. People here are grumpy and mean. The sun is hardly out. You have three months out of the year where it's warm , sometimes, and the winters are BRUTAL. People are very obese here because it's either to cold, or so humid you can taste it to get out and just want to be outside. When people move away they stay away. The only reason that would bring people back is maybe having to care for a loved one. But they don't come back because they miss it that's for sure.

    Not to mention all these places , (minus Hawaii of course) are up north. You can't pay me enough to live up north anywhere. If you think living in places that can go as far as -40 , and you have three months out of the year that may possible be warm makes happy people then your smoking something. Every time we go south people are far happier and kinder to one another and it's very genuine.

  • Jac Caj

    Please don't come to Utah, you will hate it unless you're Mormon. Ran and controlled by Mormons. Come and visit but don't stay here.

  • mikelorrey

    what I'd like to see is how US states compare to other countries in this sort of index.

  • Guest

    Someone clearly hasn't spent time in Ohio. Growing up there was the greatest and I continue to brag about my home state. So much going on and to do at all times. This must be based on sports as that makes us one sad place but everything else is great and I've lived in 5 different states that are all considered to be higher on here. 

  • Wahkeena Sitka

    heh. i spent the first 18 years of my life in Ohio, and I consider it a hell hole. there are pleasant memories there, yes, but I definitely wish I was not born and raised there! And I haven't lived there for the last 17 years, and I'm a lot happier not there. 

  • Smoffs

    I think you're confusing wealth with having basic human necessities met. What is it that makes such a difference for a poor family in an "unhappy" state? Surely not the style or year of vehicle, the number of zeroes in the salary, but having access to food, clean water, shelter, preventative healthcare, and education.

  • Issie

    Utah is number 1 for anti depressants use ... How is it possible to be soo happy? Drug yourself silly. Then check out the suicide rates in Utah, This story is not accurate at all

  • ManessDC

    Those things about antidepressants and suicide in Utah are old urban myths that were debunked a long time ago.

  • marcyharris92

    BYU was rates as the happiest University in the US too.  Where do you get your stats on the anti-depressants Issie--please verify.

  • Junior Lovesthemchocalate Boiz

    because they thought moving to a boring state that's always hot as lava and has no transportation would somehow b a better place.

    ~Florida (ex-resident) native

  • patteel

    If everyone is so happy in California, why are so many coming to Texas ? This poll is mostly based on healthy lifestyle, not true happiness.