Utah fails to win happiness ranking; what a downer!

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Utah has finished second in a WalletHub survey of the happiest states in America, behind Minnesota.

Kind of depressing, isn’t it?

And if you think finishing second is a reason to be happy, consider that Utah is second in a nation that finished 14th in this year’s World Happiness Report. Yeah, that’s right. Do the math. Let that sink in and see if a happy meal still looks good for lunch.

WalletHub used 28 metrics to rank the states, including income growth, the rate at which people participate in sports and, yes, depression.

By the way, Utah was not among the highest states for depression, even though it ranked poorly (46th) for its suicide rate.

Utah finished first in the nation in volunteerism (no surprise there), its divorce and separation rate (first, as in the lowest rate for these), and, perhaps surprisingly, for the number of hours worked. Apparently, we aren’t chained to our desks. Well, maybe you aren’t, at least.

The state ranked in the top 10 for low unemployment, income growth, safety and sleep. That is, Utahns are sixth in the nation when it comes to getting adequate sleep — perhaps a happy byproduct of a boring nightlife?

So, how did Minnesota win? Consistency, mostly. The state didn’t rank as high as Utah in a lot of categories, but it finished high in more categories, and its people actually get more sleep than Utahns. Utah lost points in the emotional and physical well-being category, finishing 24th. Minnesota came in fifth.

Of course, your mileage will vary, and the overall happiness rating of the state in which you live matters little if you are personally miserable. On the other hand, you could live in West Virginia (the least happiest of them all), and still be happy. At least, I’ll bet someone there is.

WalletHub posted thoughts from a number of experts and academicians on the subject. Bradley H. Smith, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, said, “One type of happiness is eudemonic well-being …”

It’s depressing that I don’t know what this means.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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