We’re not happy in Mississippi?

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

We’re a bunch of sad people here in Mississippi.

Or at least that’s what a new study released this week says — “Mississippians are one of the least happy people in the country.”

The TOP Data marketing research firm measured levels of happiness based on seven key indicators — employment, leisure activities, mental health, personal finance, personal relationships, physical health and social policies.

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The “happiest” state was Massachusetts, followed in the top five by Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Huh. New York and Jersey in the top five? Says a lot, if you ask me.

The five least happy states were Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and — dead last — West Virginia. I can understand part of that, maybe. But my home state?

Landing at spot 48 of 50, the Magnolia State was ranked 25th in mental health and 39th in social policies. Four more categories were ranked in the 40s — physical health, 45th; personal relationships, 47th; personal finance, 48th; and employment, 49th. Apparently there’s nothing to do in Mississippi, either, because leisure activities came in a rock solid 50th.

The Bible says, “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.”

Aristotle said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

Charles Schultz said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

I think all three are true.

Without a trust in God, we cannot have true happiness. From that anchor, happiness has a lot to do with our attitudes (Aristotle). Then we can find happiness in the simple things of life, like a warm puppy.

TOP Data used 54 metrics to evaluate each of the seven dimensions, each on a 100-point scale. Employment and personal finance accounted for 12 points each. Leisure activities counted for 10, though it was surprising to me how much of that category centered on shopping. Leisurely? Not for me.

Social polices counted 8 points, with three-fifths of the category determined by whether you could legally buy marijuana and if there were laws in place to protect members of the LGBTQI+ community, of all ages.

Mental and physical health each accounted for 20 points. I was glad to see such a heavy metric afforded to mental health, since it often gets overlooked or minimized.

The final 18 points of the 100 came down to personal relationships. Are you divorced or widowed, and how long did that relationship last? How many people are getting married and how many people are dying? Do you own a pet and have you search a dating app? The last portion of the category was dedicated to friendship app searches — people who are actively searching for a friend.

I would like to know if that meant you were happy or unhappy. I am happy to have my friends, and would also be open to adding more to my circle.

I know you’re thinking it, so I’ll just say it — somebody got paid to do this study.

This weekend, I think I’ll sit on my porch with my warm adult puppy, thankful to believe in a God who created and loves me, drink a cup of coffee and determine to be happy as I avoid “leisure activities.”

Take that, Massachusetts.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.