Every day Gallup tracks the U.S. mood on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Index tracks "the percentage of Americans who, reflecting on the day before they were surveyed, say they experienced a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry versus the percentage who say they experienced daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness and enjoyment."
The Gallup team has taken a detailed look at the well-being of people in 189 U.S. cities. It conducted 178,000 interviews and examined life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.
Where you live has a significant impact on happiness. People who live in walkable, socially connected communities tend to be happier. Living by the mountains or a large body of water doesn't seem to hurt either. I consider that the nature premium.
My city of Ann Arbor checks in at number 6. We know our neighbors. We have well-traveled sidewalks lined with trees and front porches. Most people live within walking distances to all basic amenities and have access to excellent healthcare and education.
Long term, Ann Arbor and many of the cities on the top ten list are challenged by social equity and affordability. To ensure sustainable happiness, I believe cities must follow the principles of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and create communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative.
Here's the list of the top 10 happiest cities in America according to the Gallup Well-Being Index:
- Provo-Orem, UT
- Boulder, CO
- Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
- Honolulu, HI
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Naples-Marco Island, FL
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremeont, CA
- Lincoln, NE