12.18.2009

Louisiana Happiness?

I moved from New York to Louisiana, indefinitely, over 4 months ago. I was working freelance for about 4 months here, temporarily before that (puts me at about 8-9 months in this sunny state). Now if you know me, you know that I quickly and unexpectedly fell in love with New York city. I lived in New York for 3 years and it really feels like my true home. But why am I more productive here? Why am I being told that I seem happier with my work and my time here? Why do I have a more positive outlook here? There are surely a LOT of factors involved, and I have some theories... but apparently a big fancy-pants scientific, economic, and psychological study has revealed that I moved from this year's most UNHAPPY state to the MOST happy state:

Southern States Are the Happiest

6 of the Top 10 States in a Happiness Study Are in the South

Dec. 17, 2009 -- There may be something to be said for southern hospitality and sunshine. A new study shows that Southern states are the happiest while coastal rivals New York and California are at the bottom of the list.

Researchers ranked the happiest states (plus the District of Columbia) on self-reported measures of happiness as well as objective measures like sunshine, congestion, and housing affordability and found six out of the top 10 happiest states were in the South.

Louisiana topped the list, followed by Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona rounding out the top five.

New York ranked dead last at number 51 and California fared only slightly better at number 46.

"We have been asked a lot whether we expected that states like New York and California would do so badly in the happiness ranking," says researcher Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, in a news release. "Many people think these states would be marvellous places to live in. The problem is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a non-fulfilling prophecy."

In the study, published in Science, researchers took a different approach in ranking the happiest states. Rather than relying solely on surveys that ask people how happy they are or economists' measures of quality-of-life data, researchers decided to combine the two and compare how the states measured up.

They used information from a 2005-2008 nationwide life satisfaction survey of 1.3 million Americans and a 2003 study with objective happiness indicators for each state, such as how much rain and sunshine each state received, number of hazardous waste sites, commuting time, violent crime, air quality, spending on education and highways, and cost of living.

When they compared the tables side by side, they found a very close correlation between how happy people said they were and objective quality-of-life measures.

"We wanted to study whether people's feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality -- of sunshine hours, congestion, air quality, etc -- in their own state. And they do match," says Oswald. "When human beings give you an answer on a numerical scale about how satisfied they are with their lives, it is best to pay attention. Their answers are reliable. This suggests that life-satisfaction survey data might be very useful for governments to use in the design of economic and social policies."

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I know, I know... "poo on that, Joe... Us bitter awesome and badass New Yorkers can take on anything, especially those Republican redneck southerners, so whatever... we LIKE misery!" Hey... I FEEL you. I'm there. It's a bit of a surprise to me as well, but it comes at a time when I can understand and sympathize with these results. It is more of a personal (and frankly, coincidental) situation that makes me feel this way, but nonetheless I can't help but point it towards some other issues that are bothering me...

more (continued) on my LiveJournal blog...

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7 comments:

Erin McGuire said...

Maybe it's because all the waitresses call you "sugar" :)

Ken Knafou said...

So the only reason I've been so happy all these years is because I live in Florida?

Steve Taylor said...

I'm glad your here! And if you guys need any production help (grip/electric) please let me know! i would love to come and give a hand to some of your projects that include any live action setups. :-)

Ray Gardner said...

Even those of more Left wing sensibilities are happier in those "red" states you mentioned. (Excepting for Hawaii, that's solidly blue even before our current president.)

I've read quite a bit on this line of study and know there's a number of factors, but personally I feel that it's just the more down to earth mentality outside of the megaopolis centers of humanity.

(I'm writing this from Arizona, and it is a relatively laid back place.)

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Lil Artroom said...

Hello Joe. I leave in Bossier City, Louisiana and I have leaved in Louisiana all my life. The weather here changes a lot, mostly sunny and rainy at times. Look out for the tornadoes though. Luckly I haven't really had to bump into one. It's the country though, nice peaceful and quite. Enjoy.

Jeff Welborn said...

I live in Shreveport, LA and overall I like it here, but I do grow extremely weary of how pretty much 90% of people here have the same redneck trifecta: wearing camo, having a beer gut, and sporting a goatee. I work as a designer and I hate when people call it "LSU purple and gold" Hello!? Purple and gold were around way before LSU, just call is purple and gold you moron⁄

Okay, Rant over.