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WalletHub ranks Alabama 45 out of 50 for Happiest States in America

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Alabamians who aren’t happy might need to reconsider where they live. That’s after a new study says living location influences your state of mind.

Findings from the financial website WalletHub have Alabama ranked number 45 out of 50 on its list of Happiest States in America.

States were measured on several factors, including emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez described the different criteria the website used to create the ranking.

“We looked at 30 different metrics ranging from the depression rates share of adults, to feeling productive, to income growth and unemployment rates. So, not only emotional and physical well-being, but also work and community factors,” she explained.

Gonzalez said Alabama’s overall low ranking was due to a combination of many different elements.

“Alabama has the third lowest adequate sleep rate in the country. It has the second lowest sports participation rate. It also has the fourth lowest volunteer rate in the country, one of the highest divorce and separation rates and one of the lowest safety scores,” she said. “So, all of these things obviously affect your emotional well-being. They are direct factors to your community and environment safety.”

Of all of its scores, Alabama ranked the lowest in emotional and physical well-being and work environment, both coming in at number 44 out of 50. Gonzalez explained this was due to a number of factors causing trouble for Alabamians.

“In Alabama, there were higher rates of adverse childhood experiences, which led to lower share of adult depression,” she said. “We saw a higher share of adults with alcohol use disorders and slower adults feeling active and productive,” Gonzalez continued. “So, all of these things kind of go hand in hand. A lot of times, when you work on one thing, it will affect some of the others here. So obviously, when we're looking at mental health, when we're looking at childhood foundation, those things are important as well.”

Similarly, Alabama’s community and environment was found lacking. Gonzalez said where people live largely impacts their happiness, which often due to factors mostly outside of the control of the residents.

“Where you live hugely influences your happiness, especially when we're looking at your surrounding community and environment,” she said. “That has an effect on not only your emotional and physical wellbeing [but] in a work environment as well. All three of those come together to make up your total happiness.”

Though the state fell low in the rankings, Gonzalez assured there are steps Alabamians can take to help their community and their psychological state of mind.

“Whether it's doing more things, like setting yourself up in a good community, becoming involved in your community…. or more things that really center on yourself focusing on gratitude, engaging in mindfulness practices,” she explained. “All of these different things can be some type of steps toward more psychological wellbeing.”

WalletHub says whether it’s getting involved in the community by volunteering or taking time to meditate and practice mindfulness, small things like this could make a difference in happiness and the happiness of Alabama as a whole.

Caroline Karrh is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She majors in News Media and Communication Studies at The University of Alabama. She loves to read, write and report. When she is not in the newsroom, Caroline enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading romance novels and coaching soccer.

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