For example, if you ask random people if having a child made them happy or sad, an overwhelming majority will answer happy. On the other hand if you follow random couples, some of whom have kids and some who don't, and check at standard intervals how they are feeling, you can see that having kids is just about the worst thing that can happen to a person.
My own personal theory on this is that we are all taught by society that having kids is something that is supposed to make us happy. We are fed a lot of fairytale nonsense about what this will mean for our lives. When we have them, we know that it's supposed to make us euphoric and give our lives meaning, and so often we report these things to others. But, raising kids is not like what you'd read on a Hallmark card. It's enormously stressful, exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive. You will likely have to give up hobbies and passions and most of your old life. And then they may grow up to hate you for it.
1. Big cities. City life tends to produce less happy people than country life. Though personally I don't relate; I like cities. NY, NJ, MI, CA, IL, OH, MA
2. The rust belt. High unemployment and economic stagnation in those places leading to higher rates of crime and less optimism about the future. NY, MI, IN, IL, OH
3. Less religiosity. Leading to people with a more realistic outlook on life who feel less pressure to falsely report that they are happy. CT, NJ, CA, RI
4. Transient populations. People moving around for work or school, leading to weaker communal ties et cetera. Pretty much the same thing as the big cities.
5. Seasonal affective disorder. Sunlight and weather matters a lot. Every state except California.
::goes to have a look:: ..yeah there might be some credence to that theory. MA, CT, NJ and NY show up on that quiz, with MA being ranked #1.
Religious people can't actually be happy, so they must be lying?
Frankly, much of the discussion on these threads seems slightly offensive. Of course this is all very subjective but isn't that the whole point? If someone came up to me and told me that I must have been lying and couldn't possibly be happy because of *X* or *Y* factor, I think I would be extremely insulted.
I don't know how much I buy this theory personally, but it's a far cry from claiming that religious people can't be happy or must be lying.
Edit: That said, I do agree that #3 was worded in a pretty offensive way. Maybe this is my California showing, but I have not found religious people to be less "realistic".
I do see the correlation but I don't think it's about lying (which would be irreverent anyways), it's more about the frame of mind creating an environment where happiness can still exist even in the face of sadness because other needs that are more important to the individual are still being met.
I remember reading a study about demographics of people and their level of happiness and the Amish scored super high compared to most everyone else. They were super happy because they felt free to do their own thing and felt they were doing God's work. To each their own!
Generally, conservatives are probably more likely to say 'yes, i'm happy' because that is how they were raised, wheras more liberal people may be more likely to actually say when they are unhappy and why/what they could improve.
I think that's why your typical big democrat states like Illinois, New York and California are on here.
I'll admit that I'm often envious of my relatives in the Bible Belt.
I think it's less to do with winter and more with a general outlook and pace of life. All of these states are heavily urbanized, while the happiest states have a better balance of rural population, with the rural areas generally having a healthier and more optimistic outlook.