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Happiness isn’t an easy thing to measure. Millions of things can happen in the blink of an eye, instantly changing a person’s outlook from sunshine and rainbows to eternally bleak. It’s also often far easier to put forth a placid facade than to deal with the emotional thunderstorm that’s going on inside. But on a more universal level, happiness can be measured as the environmental factors that add up to one’s day-to-day existence — in other words, where you live can determine a whole lot about how you feel about your life. And while it’s one thing to sometimes ponder whether or not you’d be happier living somewhere else, it’s often an insurmountable task to pinpoint exactly where it is you’d need to move to change the one thing that’s got you down. And that’s where WalletHub comes in.
On Sept. 11, the company released 2017’s Happiest States of America, a study that uses “the findings of ‘happiness’ research to determine which environmental factors are linked to a person’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life.” In order to establish the overall ranking for all 50 states, experts used “28 key metrics, ranging from depression rate to sports participation rate to income growth” to identify just how it is you would feel on a day-to-day basis in each and every state. While the summary of that data is helpful — spoiler: Minnesota is the happiest state, and West Virginia is the unhappiest — it’s those key metrics that provide the most insight into life in each state.
Ahead, you’ll find 10 of these metrics, from income growth to divorce rate, and the five states that ranked highest and lowest in each category. You never know . . . you just might find out that you really have been living in the wrong place all along.
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