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Happiness, of course, is relative. Health, financial comfort, career stability, and secure relationships all help lift one’s happiness level. (Sorry, Bobby McFerrin, it’s not quite as easy as your song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” made it sound.)
But your location can have a lot to do with your happiness — and that doesn’t necessarily mean the sunniest weather makes for the sunniest people.
A recent WalletHub survey drew upon positive-psychology research, examining more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities. The analysis used 30 key happiness indicators, ranging from depression rate to average leisure time to income-growth rate. While moving to a city high on this list may not instantly make you happy, it’s a fascinating look at how we might be able to quantify one of our most elusive emotions.
Here are the happiest cities in the U.S., according to the study.
15. Santa Clarita, California
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Total score: 64.44 out of 100 points
Get used to seeing California on this list: Eight of the 15 happiest cities are in the Golden State.
Santa Clarita, located about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, is close to the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. Roller coasters offer a lot of ups and downs, but if you’d rather have smooth sailing in life, know that Santa Clarita ranks high as one of the cities in which to get and stay married, based on a 2021 analysis.
14. Santa Rosa, California
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Total score: 64.52 out of 100 points
Cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang famously wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Schulz lived and worked in Santa Rosa, in Northern California’s vaunted wine country, for decades, and a museum honoring his characters and work is now housed there.
Santa Rosa, however, didn’t make the list due to any Snoopy connection, but instead ranked high for the emotional and physical well-being of its residents, according to the WalletHub analysis. That metric looks at such elements as life satisfaction, physical health, and sports participation.
13. Bismarck, North Dakota
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Total score: 64.65 out of 100 points
North Dakota’s capital city of Bismarck not only scored high on the happiness list, it also came in at No. 4 among all the cities studied as far as its community and environment rating. That’s where WalletHub considers such elements as parkland, leisure time, and divorce rate. Bismarck also made the top 10 in another WalletHub study, showing up as one of the least-stressed cities in the U.S.</…….