The Happiest State in the US

Happiness comes in many forms, but where is it easiest to find? We analyzed the data to discover America’s happiest state.

North Dakota

Is the happiest state in America

The Peace Garden state topped the ranking after the study found it performed well in 17 factors that contribute towards happiness, such as health, income, work-life balance and environment.

Top three states


North Dakota

North Dakota ranked the happiest out of all 50 states after performing well in a number of different factors, including the highest level of income growth over the past year, the second-best score for open spaces and beauty, and the highest number of national parks per square ft.  



In second position is Vermont, performing particularly well in factors related to health. Health factors have the highest weight in the analysis as the OECD’s Better Life Index has found that Americans rate it as the most important contributor to their happiness. 



Nebraska places as the third happiest state, and scores the highest in the index for the best work-life balance, which is measured on factors such as commute time, number of health clubs and average working hours. 

Happiest state Rankings

Discover where each state ranked for happiness

Overall Ranking State Health Ranking Education Ranking Work-Life Balance Environment Ranking Safety Ranking Housing ranking Income Ranking
1 North Dakota 1 2 4 8 23 24 1
2 Vermont 3 1 7 4 35 17 40
3 Nebraska 8 27 1 28 30 36 4
4 South Dakota 17 22 5 6 41 6 5
5 California 6 33 39 1 45 46 21
6 Rhode Island 18 7 27 2 33 41 33
7 Iowa 16 15 8 14 29 48 7
8 Montana 45 3 3 24 31 4 14
9 Oregon 32 11 15 3 22 27 34
10 Utah 34 14 2 29 17 1 42
11 Wyoming 28 5 11 13 8 3 41
12 Georgia 23 19 25 10 7 7 3
13 Minnesota 14 19 6 31 40 16 18
14 Alaska 9 30 18 21 1 23 49
15 Idaho 42 34 9 15 21 8 26
16 South Carolina 36 8 23 5 38 14 13
17 New Jersey 2 43 31 46 32 35 37
18 Mississippi 35 12 49 7 2 12 2
19 Connecticut 7 30 19 42 5 18 48
20 Delaware 15 37 24 23 23 19 35
20 Massachusetts 5 38 16 39 44 33 42
22 Alabama 47 24 21 9 3 19 12
23 Wisconsin 19 24 12 34 10 42 30
24 Kansas 25 17 10 35 43 26 11
25 Virginia 20 42 14 27 26 11 45
26 Texas 13 48 44 25 13 5 14
26 Louisiana 39 24 40 11 6 25 8
28 Maine 37 8 29 12 18 43 45
29 Colorado 21 27 28 18 47 2 31
30 New Hampshire 30 19 13 20 37 28 50
31 North Carolina 24 13 20 19 50 19 28
32 Arkansas 44 18 33 17 4 22 17
33 Maryland 10 40 32 40 28 9 47
34 New York 4 45 43 50 15 29 42
35 Arizona 27 34 46 16 16 30 31
36 Florida 26 48 47 22 19 40 9
37 Hawaii 12 4 38 43 38 50 22
38 Indiana 29 15 26 47 9 34 25
39 Oklahoma 48 50 17 30 27 32 23
40 New Mexico 22 8 45 36 11 15 39
41 Washington 33 44 36 26 36 10 26
42 Missouri 43 39 22 41 11 44 20
43 Illinois 11 47 41 49 49 45 10
44 Michigan 40 30 34 37 14 49 16
45 Pennsylvania 31 41 30 48 34 39 35
46 Ohio 41 45 35 45 25 47 19
47 Nevada 38 27 50 32 48 38 6
48 Tennessee 49 34 37 38 46 13 24
49 West Virginia 50 6 48 33 19 36 38
50 Kentucky 46 23 42 44 42 31 29

Happiest State

The key happiness factors.

Health ranks as US citizens’ most important contributor towards happiness, according to the OECD Better Life Index, and the study included four separate factors within the category – depression rate, sleep, suicide numbers and number of hospitals per capita. North Dakota ranks the highest while West Virginia ranks the lowest of all 50 states.  

Education is the second most important element for happiness, and Vermont comes out on top with the most higher education places per capita. In second place is North Dakota and coming in third is Montana.  

Work-Life Balance is also highly valued by Americans, with the study revealing Nebraska as the best place to achieve it. This category factored in health clubs per capita, working hours, volunteer rate, unemployment rate, commute time and divorce rates, with Utah placing second and Montana third. Conversely, Nevada places 50th on the list for achieving a good balance between career and home life. 


Environment is fourth on the list of things that make people happy in America, and California takes the top spot in the category, which assesses the percentage of trees covering state, open spaces and beauty and national parks. Rhode Island comes in second and Oregon third while New York ranks in last place.  

Safety is ranked as the fifth most important consideration for happiness in the US. The state that has the highest safety score is Alaska followed by Mississippi, while North Carolina comes in as the least safe.  

Housing is the sixth most important contributor to happiness, and sees Hawaii at the bottom of the pile, with the smallest average housing size (sq. ft) out of all the states, while Utah ranks first for housing size.  

Income is the seventh and final happiness factor on the list, and North Dakota comes in first again, thanks to its income growth percentage over the last year. New Hampshire has had the lowest income growth out of all US states.  

Ask The Experts

Dr. Jordan Burns
Chiropractor and owner of ProWellness Chiropractic
With an academic background in Kinesiology, Life Sciences, and Sports Science and Rehabilitation, Dr. Burns is committed to applying his multi-disciplinary knowledge to the realm of sleep wellness. He holds a Doctorate in Chiropractic and has tirelessly applied his insights to further the understanding of sleep, health, and well-being. Dr. Burns is a significant contributor to the body of knowledge in his field, with participation in multiple books. His works include "Chiropractic Spotlights: Conversations with America’s Leading Chiropractors," "11 Holistic Health Hacks," and "Mind Medicine For Pain Relief Stress and Anxiety," exemplifying his commitment to spreading valuable insights on health and wellness.

1.) How can chiropractic care contribute to greater overall happiness and health, including a good night’s sleep?

  1. Stress Reduction: Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce tension and stress in the body by addressing misalignments in the spine. When the body is in a state of balance, it may be better equipped to manage stress. Stress reduction is associated with improved mental well-being and overall happiness and can positively impact sleep quality.
  2. Pain Relief: Misalignments in the spine can lead to pain, particularly in the neck, back, and other areas. Chronic pain can significantly affect one’s mood and overall sense of well-being. Chiropractic care alleviates pain by restoring proper alignment and function to the musculoskeletal system, potentially promoting a happier and more comfortable daily experience.
  3. Improved Sleep Quality: Pain and discomfort from poor spinal alignment can interfere with sleep. By addressing these issues through chiropractic adjustments, individuals may find it easier to relax and achieve a more restful night’s sleep. Quality sleep is closely linked to physical and mental health, and proper spinal alignment may contribute to better sleep hygiene.
  4. Enhanced Nervous System Function: Chiropractic care focuses on optimizing nervous system function by improving the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. A well-functioning nervous system is crucial for maintaining overall health and can positively influence mood and emotional well-being.

2.) How does pain from a poor spinal alignment inhibit happiness and getting a good night’s sleep?

  1. Disruption of Sleep Patterns: Pain can make it difficult for individuals to find a comfortable position and stay asleep throughout the night. Chronic pain from poor spinal alignment may lead to sleep disruption, resulting in fatigue and diminished well-being.
  2. Impact on Mood and Mental Health: Persistent pain can have a profound effect on mood, contributing to feelings of irritability, frustration, and even depression. Chronic pain may create a cycle where negative emotions further exacerbate the perception of pain, affecting overall happiness and mental health.
  3. Daytime Fatigue and Reduced Productivity: Poor sleep quality due to pain can lead to daytime fatigue and reduced cognitive function. This can affect daily activities, work performance, and overall productivity, influencing one’s overall satisfaction with life.
Dr. Jing Zhang
Jing Zhang is a prominent figure in the realm of sleep research, specializing in the intricate connection between sleep and memory. With an extensive research tenure exceeding 7 years, she delves into the neural underpinnings of these processes. Currently, as a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, she unravels the enigma of memory formation during sleep. Having authored a plethora of 12+ publications in esteemed journals including Nature Neuroscience, Jing sheds light on the complex nexus between sleep stages, memory consolidation, and neurological disorders.

1.) What triggers happiness in the brain and how does happiness promote better brain health?

It’s not surprising that happiness and brain health are closely intertwined. Happiness could be triggered in the brain in multiple ways. One crucial factor is the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are often referred to as ‘feel-good’ chemicals.

They work on the reward system in the brain, which is a number of brain structures that control and regulate our ability to feel pleasure. Engaging in activities that make you happy, such as quality social time and good food can stimulate the release of these neurotransmitters.

Additionally, factors like regular exercise, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices have been linked to increased happiness.

Feeling happy can also promote better brain health. For instance, happier individuals often exhibit improved memory function, enhanced creativity, and better problem-solving skills.

Being in a positive emotional state is also linked to lower levels of stress and healthier lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a balanced diet and staying physically active, which contribute to overall brain health.

2.) How are brain health and sleep intertwined and how can individuals improve sleep?

Sleep is essential for brain health. During sleep, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source the brain undergoes restorative processes that contribute to cognitive function, emotional regulation, and physical well-being. Research has shown that sleep is critical for Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source memory consolidation, where the brain organizes and stores information acquired throughout the day.

Sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, ongoing sleep deprivation can contribute to heightened stress levels, impacting the brain’s ability to manage and cope with stressors effectively.

There are different ways for people to improve their sleep, and a good sleep routine can be highly individualized. So don’t be afraid to try out different things to find out what works for you.

Some common strategies include:

Dr. Nilong Vyas
Pediatrician and Sleep Consultant
Dr. Nilong Vyas is a board-certified pediatrician with over eight years of experience in her field. She has dedicated her career to helping children and their parents achieve healthier sleep habits, a belief that serves as the foundation of her practice. Her mantra, "from good sleep comes good eaters, readers, and behaviors," encapsulates her holistic approach to child well-being.

1.) How does the quality and duration of sleep in children impact their overall happiness and well-being?

When children don’t get adequate sleep, it impacts their mood, their behavior and ultimate ability to be happy.

2.) Are there specific sleep patterns or routines that have been linked to increased happiness in children?

Children need more sleep than they are typically offered. This in turn can impact their mood. When children aren’t getting adequate amounts of sleep nor good quality sleep, It can increase their likelihood of depression and anxiety.

3.) Are there particular challenges or factors that can disrupt a child’s sleep and subsequently impact their happiness?

Too many activities and not enough downtime, family time and time to reset can impact kid’s sleep, quality and duration.


Research Methodology

17 factors were used to rank each state’s level of happiness: 
  • Population with depression  
  • Population with insufficient seep  
  • Number of health clubs  
  • Number of suicides  
  • Average working hours  
  • Income growth  
  • Divorce rate  
  • Volunteer rate  
  • Average commute time  
  • Average house size  
  • Percentage of trees covering the state  
  • Number of national parks  
  • Open spaces and beauty  
  • Safety  
  • Number of higher education places  
  • Number of hospitals.  

Data was found on each of the factors for all 50 states in the US. Each of the factors were then ranked using a 10-point scale, with 10 being the best.  

The rankings were then weighted by importance to a US resident based on the OECD Better Life Index’s survey of what US citizens value in terms of making them happy.  

Order of importance of each factor:  

  1. Health
  2. Education 
  3. Work-Life Balance 
  4. Environment 
  5. Safety 
  6. Housing
  7. Income    

The Index scores were taken and the state with the highest score was ranked the happiest in the US.  


Better Life Index –  

Depression Rate –  

Insufficient Sleep – and  

Suicide Numbers –  

Work Hours –  

Divorce Rate –  

Unemployment Rate –  

Income Growth –  

Volunteer Rate – and  

Safest State –  

Greenest State –  

This article and research is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

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