They say that happiness is a state of mind, but it appears it's actually just a state. In fact, it's Hawaii.
When a Gallup Poll randomly asked 350,000 U.S. state residents over the course of 2012 whether they were stressed, Hawaiians were the most likely to say "No." And they were also the most likely to have "experienced enjoyment" the day before they were asked about it. Low stress and high enjoyment? That's happiness in my book.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, and Wyoming also landed on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index of least-stressed states. And Wyoming joined Hawaii as a double winner by also being on the "experienced the most enjoyment" list.
Living in Georgia, a state that's 21st on the least stressed list, I'm a little jealous of Hawaii, which has been number 1 for the entire five years that Gallup has been doing the poll. The most-stressed states were, in order, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah, and Massachusetts.
The states that experienced the least enjoyment were Rhode Island, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia.
West Virginia and Rhode Island: What's up with your negative double whammy?
The pollsters say that the relationship between stress and enjoyment isn't entirely clear. What is clear is that a lot of people are stressed out. According to the Gallup Poll, 40% of American adults consistently report experiencing a lot of stress. And we know that stress can take its toll on your health.
We're here to help. Here's how the 10 most stressed states (and any of you who are not "experiencing enjoyment" as much as you'd like) can loosen up a little and relax:
1. Have more sex. Maybe if you were lounging around the beach in your bikini in Hawaii instead of housebound in New Hampshire this wouldn't seem like such a challenge for you.
2. Meditate, Ohio. Yes, you heard me. Forget that there's a freeze warning for tonight while Hawaii is basking in the sun, and focus on your breathing.
3. Yuk it up, Indiana. A good laugh can give you a bit of an energy and mood boost.
4. Eat this, Massachusetts: A turkey, swiss, and avocado sandwich on whole-wheat bread with a dash of oregano just might cheer you up (the oregano is an anti-inflammatory that might help reduce stress). It's no fancy drink in a pineapple, but a tea chaser may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
5. Get out of your curled-up fetal position and do the child's pose, Connecticut. Yoga is thought to help fight anxiety.
6. Take a peaceful stroll by the ocean, Utah. Oh, scratch the ocean part. But walking will help you shake off stress.
7. Clean your kitchen, Rhode Island. All that clutter could be giving you sensory overload and stressing you out. Conquering the chaos can be very relaxing.
8. Stop looking at pictures of Hawaii on your computer while you're folding the clothes, Kentucky. Multitasking is not relaxing. Forget the folding and just look at Hawaii.
9. Visit the sauna at the gym, Oregon. It will relax you and improve your mood as you consider that there's only 2,600 miles between you and Hawaii.
10. Turn off the computer, West Virginia. And keep all those digital devices out of your bedroom where they can make you even more tired and depressed about the fact that you don't live in Hawaii!