More News From the Happiness Front

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It's all over the news in Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo, Logan and even St. George, but Utah is the happiest state in the union.

That's the word from a Gallup poll co-sponsored by Healthways and America's Health Insurance Plans (that's an organization, not just a method of not typing a lot of names) that's intended to measure well-being. The same poll finds teeth-gnashing in Wheeling, since West Virginia is the least happy place in the U.S. — kind of an anti-Disneyland, it seems. (And they're not dancing in the Dakotas either.)

We point this out since our Ryan Blitstein asked last year, on the cover of our June 2008 print magazine, "Should the Government Make Us Happy?" It was a long article and we're not going to give away the ending here, but the upshot revolves around the idea that GDP may not be the best measure of a state's success. The Well-Being Index asks a similar question, although frames it around health and not happiness.

On the Web page that leads to the genuinely nifty set of interactive devices that explains survey results down to the level of congressional districts, it is written: "The research and methodology underlying the Well-Being Index is based on the World Health Organization definition of health as ‘not only the absence of infirmity and disease, but also a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.'"

The survey of 350,000 started last summer and qizzed patricipants about things like their own life evaluation, work quality, basic access to the necessities, healthy behavior, physical health and emotional health. Take a look at the Web page and the drill-down it offers. You'll be happy you did.