Happiness may be a difficult state of mind to measure, but a new study attempts just that: listing which states should have the happiest people, based on an array of factors.
A Gallup survey looked at respondents' emotional and physical health, behavior and job satisfaction to determine their levels of happiness. The results rated Maryland at No. 6 and Virginia at 15. D.C. was not rated.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows which states are the happiest. The results are out of a possible 100 points based on several factors such as job satisfaction and physical and emotional health.
Top 7 Happiest States:
1. Utah 69.2
2. Hawaii 68.2
3. Wyoming 68
4. Colorado 67.3
5. Minnesota 67.3
6. Maryland 67.1
7. Washington 67.1
The study says states with wealthier people are happier because citizens have more of their basic needs met. Tolerance and healthy habits also showed up more often in the happier states.
Jason Rentfrow, a study researcher, said tolerance was defined by the state's proportion of gays, foreign-born residents, and people who are artistic and unconventional.
"Culturally diverse regions tend to be more tolerant and accepting of people from different backgrounds than culturally homogenous regions," said Rentfrow, who is a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge in England.
But economic status and education also played a large role in a state's happiness level. Kentucky and West Virginia were listed as No. 49 and 50, based in large part on those factors.
Health is a major component of happiness, the study's researchers found.
Utah, which ranked No. 1 in the happiness survey, also contains the nation's fittest city, according to a survey by Men's Fitness, which placed Salt Lake City at No. 1. Colorado and Minnesota, also filled with fit folks, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, on the happiness scale.
The findings appeared subjective. People fond of beaches, warm winters and palm trees might argue with the finding that Hawaii is only the second happiest state, behind Utah and just ahead of Wyoming.
The study's results will appear in the December issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.