Happy in Hawaii

LIHUE – Hawaiians are twittering and expressing their happiness online at a mad pace compared to the rest of the country.  

The lowest levels of depression: Yes. The happiest on the hedonometer score, which measures the personal expression of people’s happiness online: Yes.

Hawaii takes first place when it comes to both, according to a recent survey by WalletHub.com, the leading personal finance social network. 

For Miguel Magana, who works at Hanalei Coffee Roasters, happiness is a daily decision. 

“Happiness is a state of being, we all wake up with that choice to decide whether or not to be happy,”  Magana said. 

According to the study on the topic of quality of life, “Life satisfaction, one of the two main components of happiness besides emotional well-being, increases as income rises but only up to $75,000.”

Beyond that, the study showed that money made little difference in a person’s overall happiness.

“We make under $75,000 and we’re happy,” said Janice Calder from Kapaa. “Family is number one. We’re very close and stay in touch constantly.”

Her husband, Bill Calder, agrees when it comes to the question of whether money can buy happiness. 

“It helps greatly along the way if you think you can buy things that make you happy,” Calder said. “But it’s making others feel happier with the money we’re able to provide for our children, making their life easier.” 

Gordon Bonilla, owner of Smiley’s Local Grinds, said money can make people happy to some extent. He knows what makes him happy.

“Being at the beach and hanging with my wife and grandkids,” Bonilla said. 

Leilani Cord of Anahola raised her family on Kauai with her husband Rip after moving to the island 26 years ago.

“I love how people volunteer and help each other,” she said.

But happiness is a point of reference issue for some people. 

“You have to go someplace else to have something to compare it to,” Rip said. 

Magana agreed. 

“You can’t experience true happiness unless you’ve had some sorrow, too,” Magana said. 

He appreciates the surroundings.

“Just look around you, it’s hard not to be happy, if you understand the opposite,” Magana said.

For Kelsey Mitchell, it’s a combination of attitude and gratitude.

“I try to count my blessings and deal with my problems day by day,” Mitchell said. 

She never plans to leave Kauai, where she has found happiness with her six-month-old daughter. 

“I think we’re number one because we’re laid back and try not to worry about every little thing,” Mitchell said. 

But apparently, happiness is keeping Hawaiians from sleeping. They ranked 50 out of 51 for having the highest prevalence of inadequate sleep in the WalletHub survey. 

The states that ranked worst on the hedonometer score:  Louisiana and Mississippi. The states with the highest levels of depression: Oregon and Kentucky.

The hedonometer was developed by University of Vermont researchers and measures human happiness in real time. It is based on the measurement of people’s online expressions using a composite set of about 10,000 unique words scored individually between sad and happy. 

Corrina Sabala wasn’t surprised by the happiness survey results. 

“I love it here,” the 20-year Kauai resident said, “I’m not a materialistic person and so Kauai offers everything I need: the ocean, the mountains and my son.” 

Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com

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