What makes a place happy? A new Wallethub report on the happiest states in America tracks financial security, mental and physical health, job satisfaction, and feelings toward society and community to find out. While this equation may not necessarily be perfect (whatever happened to the saying that money can't buy you happiness?), many of the states in this report have shown up in other "happiest state" lists on Forbes, MSN, and Business Insider.
The report found that the least happy states include West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky, all of which are situated in the South. States with large urban populations like New York and California hovered around the middle, coming in at 14th happiest and 28th happiest respectively. So what were the happiest states in the country? Turns out living on the coasts may be overrated. Check out the list below of happiest states, in descending order.
State Motto: "Equality before the law." (totally badass)
Home of: Buffalo Bill, the Reuben sandwich, America's largest indoor rain forest
Why Nebraska is so happy: They have the fifth-highest volunteer rate, the sixth-lowest divorce rate, and one of the most manageable average work commutes in the country
State Motto: "Nothing without providence" (which is significantly less badass than Nebraska's)
Home of: The United States Air Force Academy, Amy Adams, the most micro-breweries per capita in the U.S., and most importantly, the cheeseburger
Why Colorado is so happy: They get better sleep than most of the country, have one of the highest sports participation rates, and the fewest people with health restrictive weight problems. But let's be real, the actual answer to this is legal marijuana.
3. North Dakota
State Motto: "Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable."
Home of: The geographical center of North America, which is pretty cool, more sunflowers than any other state, the countries only synthetic natural gas producer
Why is North Dakota so happy: They have the highest income growth, second-lowest divorce rate, and literally not enough people in the state to make anyone else unhappy
State Motto: "The Star of the North"
Home of: Chris Pratt (swoon), The Mall of America which attracts 40 million people per year, the most recreational boats in the country.
Why is Minnesota so happy: They have the second-highest volunteerism rate and one of the lowest divorce rates — plus, Minnesota is the third-safest state to live in.
State Motto: "Industry." (Yeah, that's the whole thing.)
Home of: The Great Salt Lake, the highest literacy rate in the nation, the inventor of the television, Philo Farnsworth
Why is Utah the happiest state? They have the second-highest sports participation rate, the lowest median weekly hours worked, the highest volunteerism rate, and the lowest divorce rate. It's also one of the most beautiful states in the country. You go, Utah!