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Encore: Money, Canoes or Oral Hygiene: Finding the Key to Happiness

What makes us truly happy?

According to research by the Gallup organization, North Dakotans are happier than Iowans. Or rather, they have a higher state of well-being.

Gallup-Healthway’s well-being index measures factors like emotional health, physical health, and access to basic necessities that have been proven to contribute to overall happiness. Iowa ranks 10th in the country, while North Dakotans have the best sense of well-being, and West Virginians have the worst.

“North Dakotans are pretty hearty folk. They have very high physical health, they take good care of themselves. They don’t live perfect lives, but there’s a lot of good things going on in North Dakota,” Gallup research director Dan Witters explains.

Credit Gallup

Witters notes that there is a correlation between well-being and income, and North Dakota currently has a booming economy. And though we all know the old adage that money can’t buy happiness, Associate Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University Ryan Howell says the connection is there.

“It’s really not how much money you have that we see that makes you happy, it’s how you allocate those resources that can make you happy,” he says.  “So spending your money in ways that can make you closer to your friends and family is probably one of the most important keys to buying happiness.”

Charity Nebbe talks with Howell and Witters In this Talk of Iowa interview. She is also joined by Dave Gould, Director of Imagination for the Downtown Project in Las Vegas, and Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

*This show originally aired on July 9, 2014. 

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk