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Friday, March 02, 2012

Gallup Poll: Kentucky Is The Second UNHAPPIEST State In The United States. Well, DUH!

Gallup’s happiness poll frowns on Kentuckians
By ANDREW ROBINSON

Kentucky isn’t exactly Walt Disney World, which dubs itself “the happiest place on Earth,” according to a report released this week.

A new Gallup poll lists Kentucky as the second unhappiest state in the United States, ahead of only neighboring West Virginia.

Gallup relied on six measures to score each state on a well-being index, as well as six subindexes – including life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behavior and basic access to health care and healthy opportunities, such as places to exercise.

Rick Roepke, a therapist with the Christian Family Institute in Bowling Green, said happiness starts with an individual’s mindset.

“Happiness is nothing but a by-product of what we’re focused on or what we’re thinking about which benefits our life,” Roepke said.

The South isn’t very happy in general. In addition to Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee were all among the 11 least happy states.

Doris Thomas, vice president of marketing at Commonwealth Health Corp., said there’s no question a correlation exists between healthiness and happiness.

However, Thomas said she thinks Bowling Green itself is blessed with a number of amenities that contribute to health and wellness, including family oriented activities and numerous parks, which are conducive to outdoor activity.

Thomas said she believes more people are becoming aware of the benefits of being healthy and how it can contribute to happiness.

“We’re going to have to keep driving that home to people,” Thomas said. “The way you’re going to feel better is to take care of your health.”

In a release, Gallup said the nation’s well-being is a reflection of the persistently sluggish economy.

The report also stated that employees who take a holistic approach to employees’ well-being, such as offering incentives to quit smoking or regularly go to a gym, can play a vital role in decreasing organizational and societal costs related to poor health.

Roepke said a healthy workplace must start at the top of the organization.

“When employees are treated as valuable, the sense of well-being and happiness goes up,” Roepke said.

He added it’s important that people are put into positions where they can best be utilize.

“There’s little things from promoting or celebrating birthdays, celebrating new hires, just being actively involved with their new employers can create a whole lot healthier environment,” Roepke said.

Last year, a report that assessed the health of each American county based on a number of things, including percentage of uninsured adults and adult obesity, ranked Warren County as the 27th healthiest county of the 120 counties in Kentucky.

Thomas said The Medical Center offers a number of opportunities for free health screenings through its Health and Wellness Center.

“I do believe that there’s more people who are involved in their health and taking charge of the their health,” Thomas said. “The more of that you do, the happier you will feel.”

The report said Hawaii is the happiest state, followed by North Dakota, Utah, Alaska and Colorado.

Overall, the well-being index for the nation was 66.2 in 2011, down from 66.8 in 2010. Kentucky scored a 63.3 on the overall index, well behind Hawaii’s 70.2.

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