Living in Alabama may be impacting the happiness of its residents, according to a recent study by financial website WalletHub. The study, which measured several factors including emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment, placed Alabama at number 45 out of 50 on the list of Happiest States in America.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez highlighted the criteria used for the ranking, stating, “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.”
Alabama’s overall low ranking is attributed to a combination of factors. Gonzalez pointed out, “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. So, all of these things obviously affect your emotional well-being. They are direct factors to your community and environment safety.”
Breaking down the scores, Alabama ranked the lowest in emotional and physical well-being and work environment, both at number 44 out of 50. Gonzalez explained that higher rates of adverse childhood experiences, a higher share of adults with alcohol use disorders, and slower adults feeling active and productive contributed to these lower scores.
The study emphasized the impact of where people live on their happiness. Gonzalez emphasized, “Where you live hugely influences your happiness, especially when we’re looking at your surrounding community and environment. That has an effect on not only your emotional and physical well-being [but] in a work environment as well. All three of those come together to make up your total happiness.”
While Alabama faces challenges in these areas, Gonzalez suggested actionable steps for improvement. “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 well-being.”
Despite the lower ranking, WalletHub’s insights offer a roadmap for Alabamians to enhance both personal and community well-being. Taking part in community activities, fostering gratitude, and engaging in mindfulness practices are among the small yet impactful measures that can collectively contribute to a happier Alabama.