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How happy are Seattle, and WA as a whole, compared to other cities and states?

Published on April 7, 2022

A large, multigenerational group of people by the International Fountain at Seattle Center on a sunny day
A large, multigenerational group of people by the International Fountain at Seattle Center on a sunny day Image Credit: Ian Sane (CC BY 2.0)

By some accounts, Seattle is among the most stressed and sleep-deprived metros in the nation, but let’s forget about that for a moment. New reports find Seattle, and Washington as a whole, rate high on the happiness scale.

In fact, Seattle is the seventh-happiest city in the nation, according to WalletHub’s 2022’s Happiest Cities in America report. The personal finance website last year found that the state of Washington was the 13th-happiest in the nation.

To determine where Americans were happiest, WalletHub compared 180 cities and all 50 states across several key indicators, including unemployment rates, job opportunities, the potential for income growth, divorce rates and sleep rates.

Seattle had the lowest unemployment rate, ranked second in income growth and first in the number of people who play sports.

The state’s happiness ranking was also based, in part, on the number of people who spend time volunteering for causes they believe in.

Milla Titova, a professor at the University of Washington who teaches courses on happiness, said there are a lot of reasons Seattle and Washington could fare well on lists like these.

“There are so many things going on in Seattle,” she said. “You have the Seattle Freeze, which is real and might go against happiness. We have gloom and we don’t see the sun for months and we know that’s not good for happiness.

But people in Seattle and Washington are really into the outdoors, she said.

“A lot of people here are active and we know that working out and being outdoors is good for happiness,” she said.

Shep Salusky, a Seattle-based clinical psychologist who’s on the UW faculty and is a member of the Washington State Psychological Association, said he’s wary of these sorts of lists and finds them almost meaningless.

Studies such as these tend to rely on internet analytics and self reporting rather than rigorous and controlled scientific experiments, he said.

You could make the case that Seattle is a happy city because in comparison with much of the nation, we are relatively affluent and have a better social service safety net than many, he said.

But, he said, that’s really not a correct way to measure happiness.

Salusky said there’s literature going back 20 to 30 years indicating, among other things, that happiness is more than the absence of sadness.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times

Originally written by  for The Seattle Times
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