The state of the states

happiest_states2Gallup came out with its State of the States report last week. The report is based on interviews with nearly 200,000 Americans from across all 50 states. The results are based on how the interviewees rank their own life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to basic necessities.

The top state, moving up from 19th place in 2012, is North Dakota. The overall top ten are:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota
  5. Montana
  6. Vermont
  7. Colorado
  8. Hawaii
  9. Washington
  10. Iowa

What’s interesting to me is that, other than the obvious outlier Hawaii, these aren’t, for the most part, glamorous states with big city attractions and/or great weather. In fact, here’s the five day forecast for Williston, North Dakota:

williston weather2

So what’s so great about North Dakota and her frigid friends in the Great Plains? North Dakota scores highest on the Work Environment and Physical Health indexes. This really shows the power of a purpose. People are happiest when they have a job to do. We might fantasize about a life of leisure on some distant beach or about the bright lights of a big city, but what actually makes us happy are the quieter joys of a paycheck and, as the French would say, a raison d’etre.

Our Managing Editor, Barclay Pollak, and I have an ongoing debate about who has the most eclectic music on their iPod. Personally, I think my mix of everything from indie to pop to classical to outlaw country wins. The happiness of North Dakotans reminds me of one particular outlaw country song, Waylon Jennings’ Luckenbach, Texas. Waylan sings:

So baby, let’s sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society you cry all day
We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Jones
Four car garage and we’re still building on
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love

If our overall happiness is, in large part, derived from fulfilling our basic needs, shouldn’t that same concept apply to your business? If you can fulfill the basic needs of your customers and your employees, you’ve already won. So whether it’s focusing on the six basic needs of a typical customer or ensuring fast and reliable phone and high-speed internet service for your employees, you too can be a North Dakota. And, while that 5-day forecast doesn’t look good, the future is bright!

About Kris Prusynski

Kris works on the Commercial Marketing team at TDS Telecom and helps TDS achieve their online objectives through digital marketing and website optimization. She has worked in the digital marketing space for over 15 years, in product categories as diverse as shoes, banking, beds and pig farming supplies (really!). Kris has both undergraduate degrees and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and therefore bleeds Badger red. She’s a veteran blogger on topics ranging from digital marketing to Wisconsin fish frys to the sweet necessity of ugly office sweaters. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find her on Twitter or Google+ trying to decipher the mysteries of A Song of Ice and Fire. In her spare time, you can find Kris kayaking, hanging out at the dog park, or thinking about lawn care.
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