Am I really happiest in Happy Valley?


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            It's almost finals week. There's so much work and even more stress to go with it. However, yesterday afternoon a lot of that stress seemed to evaporate into thin air. It was around 65 degrees and sunny, and nothing else mattered. They do call this place "Happy Valley," but is it really one of the happiest places to live? I love it here, but if I lived somewhere where it was warm and sunny every day would I be happier all the time? Or, is it other factors that cause one to be happy or unhappy depending on where they live?

            According to a comprehensive survey was done in 2009 that determined where the happiest places to live were. Their conclusions were as follows: Residents of Hawaii, Utah, Montana, and Minnesota reported the highest well-being of any other state, followed by Iowa, Vermont, Colorado, Alaska, North Dakota, and Kansas. On the other end of the spectrum, Nevada, Ohio, Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia ranked lowest on the well-being scale. The article said, "The annual survey ranks Americans' overall quality of life and measures how we're faring physically, emotionally, socially, and professionally." Interestingly, they noted that if you are happier mentally this could also benefit you physically. Like how I said my stress just disappeared when it was beautiful out, something like this simple stress reduction could shield the heart from stress and "boost immunity."  "Consumer Reports on Health" also released an article that has a few pointers on how to better your way of life, regardless of where you live. Some of these methods include counting the positive things in life and being optimistic, volunteering, and making friends. The article also allowed you to look at a PDF PDF and  find out the happiness level of your own state. I am from New Jersey, which is 29th, and Pennsylvania was 31st. Considering the weather and temperament of these states the findings were not too surprising to me. The fact that Hawaii is number one also makes sense, but the ones that follow I'm not so sure about. What makes Utah so special?

            Another article article addresses my issue with why living in warm, beautiful places does not increase happiness across the board, giving the example of California. They said that California's cost of living is so high that this could cause extreme unhappiness, despite living in one of the most beautiful places. As I continued to search, it was interesting to see that this was a common theme: money. How much money you have and your living expenses can also have a large effect on one's happiness. An article from Forbes magazine magazine said that having money definitely increases your happiness, but having an excess of money may do just the opposite. When surveyed, those who made more than the national average of $75,000 were not any happier, or even less happy, than those living comfortably.

            So maybe it's a combination. There is no doubt that happiness is definitely correlated with where you live, but also how much you make. Maybe the people living in places like Nevada have an easier time finding just the right balance of how much income is the right amount for some reason.  

2 Comments

I think the whole college atmosphere in general makes people happier- the freedom and surrounding are like a breath of fresh air after living under our parents' roof for 18 years. But, as you said, I definitely think weather and income influence mood and happiness, it may be day by day or a general survey like you cited. The weather aspect, since Hawaii is said to be the happiest state, makes me wonder if vacations and the temporary happiness make us happy in the long run?
It apparently does. I say it all the time... "I want a vacation," but after spending a week or so in paradise, is my mood better or worse? According to this article in Forbes there was a national survey conducted in which the results showed increased happiness and productivity in workers. The study was comprehensive and measured a large age gap (21-74) and the results seem to be almost overwhelming it made people happier, and even feel like a better person. With all these positive after effects to consider, maybe Penn State should give us a little lengthier of a winter vacation? But in all serious, I definitely think warm weather and a little relaxation correlates to our overall well-being.

I personally love it here. The atmosphere is completely different. I don;t know if it is having fresh air all the time, or the people, or the atmosphere the people create. I think the biggest reason why kids love going to college so much is that they are finally allowed to have the freedom they want. To me it is better then a vacation because when I go on vacation I feel great for a week, but after that I get bored of it. College is the best of both worlds because there is enough time to feel away, but your always busy and never feel bored. I think vacations are good in about a week long intervals, but after that the people may adjust to much to vacation and their work becomes more lazy since they get used to a vacation lifestyle.

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