What makes you happy? A sunset? Your family? Hobbies? Entertainment? Whatever it is, what you may not know is that where you live may also determine how happy you are and it turns out, life is pretty good in Fremont, California.
A new survey from WalletHub that compared 182 of the largest cities across three key factors found that residents who live in Fremont, CA are some of the happiest citizens in the United States.
In order to determine the rankings, the survey looked at a city's:
- Emotional and Physical Well-Being
- Income & Employment
- Community & Environment
Each category was evaluated using 28 relevant metrics like life-satisfaction index, depression and suicide rates.
Bismark, ND, San Jose, CA, Pearl City, HI and Plano, TX rounded out the top five happiest cities in the U.S.
Why are people so happy in Fremont? WalletHub looked at factors like how many people reported being depressed, how much sleep they got, and how often they participated in sports and community activities. Other factors, like rates of suicide and how often people have to work were also considered.
How much money people make wasn't ignored as a factor for people's happiness. After all, while studies have shown that money can't buy happiness (after a certain point), it sure does give you a head start on misery. The highest amount of income growth were Bismark, ND, Washington D.C. and Denver, CO according to WalletHub's survey.
Turns out, there are a lot of satisfied citizens in cities in across California with the Golden State scoring eight of the top twenty happiest cities in America. North Dakota, Texas and Arizona also had multiple cities in the top twenty.
Experts say Americans might place too much importance on happiness. Sarah Collins, the director of the College to Career Center at Doane University says that while happiness is essential, to feel truly fulfilled, people should focus on more than just happiness.
"There is a great TED talk addressing this by Emily Esfahani Smith, stating that happiness comes and goes, but having meaning in life - serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you - gives you something to hold onto."
Where you live might increase - or decrease - how happy you are too. If you're looking to make a move because you're feeling unhappy with the city or place you find yourself in, Jonathan H. Westover, an associate professor of Organizational Leadership at Utah Valley University says where you go depends on what stage of life you find yourself in.
"There are many factors that influence happiness and life satisfaction, and where you live is one of them. This usually connects with life stage and what the individual/family is looking for, but generally speaking, people are happier when they live in places with good schools, low crime, a strong economy, and a strong connection with nature and the surrounding environment."
No matter where you live, you shouldn't place too much importance on happiness. Westover says happiness is just one in a constellation of emotions.
"It is certainly unrealistic to think we can be happy all the time or satisfied in our jobs all the time. But as happines and life satisfaction is linked to many other personal, professional, organizational, and societal outcomes, I believe it is something to strive for and to develop in ourselves."