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There are a ton of books, articles and classes telling us how we can get happy. What if the answer was as simple as living in a happy place?
It might be that easy, according to author Dan Buettner, who along with National Geographic and Gallup, the research company, came up with an index to measure a population's happiness. “If you want to get happy, don’t try and change your belief system. Change your environment,” Buettner writes.
In its November issue, National Geographic lists the 25 happiest cities in the United States, with Boulder, Colo., at the top. Boulderites “overwhelmingly feel active and productive everyday,” Buettner says, and the city’s “sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies” make it an attractive place to live. Three communities in Colorado and eight in California made the list.
Happiness for people 50 and older also figured into the study. “Several of the happiest cities in America are home to some of the best places for seniors to live,” Buettner says. “Foremost among the top cities is Naples, Fla., with their wonderful hospital system, sunshine, level of security and access to healthy food.”
Healthy food was just one of the 15 metrics considered for the index. Others included learning something new every day, civic engagement, financial security, vacation time and even dental checkups.
The index drew on nearly 250,000 interviews conducted with adults from 2014 to 2015 in 190 metropolitan areas around the country.
Here are the top 10 happiest communities on the list.
1. Boulder, Colo.
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
3. Charlottesville, Va.
4. Fort Collins, Colo.
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.
9. Barnstable Town, Mass.
10. Anchorage, Alaska
See the full list of 25 happiest cities at National Geographic.