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Louisiana happier than NYC?

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 marvelous 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."

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.

I heard on the radio this morning that the global summit on Climate Control in Copenhagen, Denmark is hitting some snags with China not going along with the restrictions and goals to limit carbon emission (to be set in part by President Obama), and will not agree to participate entirely.  The protests are becoming extreme and larger by the day.  It is immensely surprising to hear talk in New York, and an outlook that tries so hard (and even enforces laws) to keep a "green" city, whereas I hear opposite talk at times down here.  

I was recently at a favorite (for the town) lunch spot.  This place is PACKED every day at lunch and they must turn over 200 tables every day between 11:00 and 2:00.  This place still uses those old, BIG plastic cups that nearly everyone throws away.  They don't have recycling cans, they don't encourage customers to reuse or return the cups... I see literally POUNDS upon pounds of plastic thrown away at this place every day.  This sort of infuriates my girlfriend and I... and on top of it all I overheard comments about "once you start proving that the earth is getting warmer, then you can start taxing my emissions (or something to that effect).  It was supremely frustrating, and that brought me to another news article I heard on the radio, talking about how Psychologists are studying the effect on a person's mental well-being as a result of the threat of Global Climate change...  I also then thought of the fact that Louisiana still has "parishes" not "counties"... Suffice to say, the 'progressive' movement down here is not as predominant as it is in New York, however is that ultimately important?  To be so concerned as to be unhappy?  Most people I know down here are Progressive Democrats or newly independent (politically), and fairly progressive or liberal.  We have a film center that supports all lifestyles and even hosted a gay and lesbian film festival.  We have an art gallery that hosts worldwide artists and pieces, including graffiti and tattoo art.  The Hollywood scene is still blossoming, and we have more and more artists, musicians and filmmakers in town.

Ithink it is in a stage of evolution and progression that is still not so "furrowed at the brow" as New York is, and that could explain a lot of the happiness. My mind was just racing today as I heard/ read these articles.  It's an interesting set of concepts... just thinking on my keyboard here... your thoughts?



larry, slappy white, david

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