Count your blessings

Are you happy? If you’re not, and you live on Kauai, or anywhere in Hawaii for that matter, you should be.

That, at least, is according to a national survey conducted by Gallup and Healthways assessing Americans by their sense of purpose, social life, financial health, community pride and physical fitness.

Hawaii’s residents report the highest well-being of any state. Well-being, according to this survey, is closely tied to financial status, and research has shown that income is closely tied to happiness up to a threshold of around $75,000 a year. After that, though it’s not clear why, income is less likely to have a major effect on well-being. The estimated 49.2 percent of Hawaii households that make $75,000 a year benefit from this level of financial security, the second largest share nationwide.

Strong social support is also vital for a community’s well-being. One sign of active community life in Hawaii may be the state’s high marriage rate and high share of families. Hawaii has the second-most weddings per capita, and families in Hawaii comprise 69.4 percent of all households, the second-largest share in the country.

Alaska, North Dakota, Maine and Colorado round out the top five.

The most miserable states, this survey found, were West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas.

Here are a few statistics that led to Hawaii being No. 1 for well-being:

w Poverty rate: 10.6 percent (seventh lowest)

w Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent (sixth lowest)

w Obesity rate: 22.7 percent (second lowest)

w Percentage of adults with bachelor’s degree: 31.4 percent (18th highest)

Well, there are a lot of reasons why we should feel good about living in Hawaii. The obvious are the beaches, the sunshine, the ocean, the warmth and the sheer beauty of the islands.

But there are other factors, more important ones, that come into play, particular here on Kauai. Those may not be so obvious, but they are there. Sure, sense of purpose, social life, financial health, community pride, and physical fitness matter. But when it comes down to it, it’s people that make the difference. It’s our relationships with each other that count, usually more than anything, in determining the level of our happiness and well being. It’s difficult to be angry with co-workers, friends, family, acquaintances, someone at the store and still walk around, pretending we’re full of joy.

There are plenty of people in this world who are healthy, have a nice home and plenty of money and yet, aren’t happy.

The aloha spirit on Kauai is very much real. It’s not something you can fake. You got it or you don’t. You wish others success or you wish them failure. This survey, while nice to note, is all about the tangibles. Life is more than that. The intangibles make Kauai the special place it is and always will be.


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