San Francisco is beautiful, wealthy, and has a booming economy. But, of 10 cities surveyed for happiness, it has the least number of residents describing themselves as "very happy." Dallas/Fort Worth has the most "very happy" people.
The numbers come from a Harris Interactive poll of more than 2,000 adults. In Dallas, 38% of people described themselves as very happy, compared to 28% in San Francisco. Houston had the next happiest group of people: 36% of residents, followed by Atlanta and Philadelphia, which both had 34%.
Spirituality could be one factor: 75% of people in Dallas/Fort Worth said their "spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force," compared to 60% of San Franciscans. That's a big gap. Houston (79%) and Atlanta (77%) also scored highly on that question.
On the other hand, 79% of S.F. residents say they're "optimistic about the future" (highest than seven other cities), and only 35% said their "work is frustrating"—a lower percentage than most other cities. So, it's not all bad. But part of San Francisco's low ranking may be due to the city's rapid gentrification—a process that is pushing out longtime residents and making it difficult for others to hang on. It's also worth considering that residents of different cities may define happiness in varying ways.
A separate Harris survey found that 33% of Americans are "very happy," with slightly higher numbers among richer, older, and better educated parts of population. Two-thirds (67%) said they were "optimistic about the future."