By Shan Li
2:06 PM CST, February 28, 2013
If the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate goal of Americans, turns out that people have a much better shot in Hawaii than in West Virginia.
Hawaii ranks No. 1 in well-being among its residents for the fourth year in a row, according to a Gallup-Healthways poll, while West Virginia for the fourth year straight is at the very bottom.
According to the poll, Aloha State residents were most likely to rate their lives as "thriving," scoring themselves high in areas such as emotional health and work environment.
West Virginians, on the other hand, had the lowest score for physical health and were most likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont round out the top five happiest states. Joining West Virginia at the bottom are Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Gallup reported that residents in happy states tend to be healthier -- they exercised more, had lower rates of diabetes and smoked less. They also tend to have higher incomes, lower unemployment and smaller rates of poverty.
Frank Newport, editor in chief of Gallup, told 24/7 Wall St. that well-being has a trickle-down effect -- happy residents are more likely to contribute positively to their community and local economy.
"If your citizens have high well-being, they're more likely to be better citizens and engage in better behaviors and make things better all around," he said.
California is somewhere in the middle of the pack -- happier than states in the South, which tend to rank low, but not as cheerful as those in the Midwest and Northeast.
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