Why is This the Happiest City in America?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You ever see those people who are always smiling? No matter what they're doing: driving, shopping or even pumping gas, they are doing it with a smile. Are they really that happy to be inhaling fumes? Is it a habitually worn smile-mask or are they just that dang contented?

Maybe so, if they live in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – America's happiest city, according to the Harris Poll Happiness Index.

In fact, one-third of Americans say they are very happy and apparently where you live has a lot to do with it. Americans in Dallas/Fort Worth are more likely than those in any of America's other top markets to qualify as "very happy" (with 38% qualifying as such, vs. a 10-city average of 33%).

The least-happy Americans among the Top 10 markets in the U.S. live in San Francisco, with only 28% of its residents qualifying as "very happy."

Here are the Top 10 Happiest Cities in the U.S. (from happiest to least-happy):

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (38% "very happy")

These happy Texans are most likely to say their spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to them (75%) and that they rarely worry about their health (59%), as well as being among the least likely to feel their voices are not heard in national decisions that affect them (67%).

But even America's happiest city shows room for improvement. Dallas/Fort Worth residents are among the Americans least likely to agree that they have positive relationships with their family members (though it's worth noting that 83% do agree with this sentiment), and they among the most likely to agree that they rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes they enjoy (34%).

Houston, Tex. (36% "very happy")

Like their neighbors in north Texas, Houston residents are also among those most likely to say their spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to them (79%) and among the least likely to feel their voices are not heard in national decisions that affect them (67%).

However, Houston residents stand out from those of most other markets in that, well, they don't stand out in any negative way, attitudinally speaking.

Philadelphia, Penn. (34% "very happy")

Philly residents are most likely to say their relationships with friends bring them happiness (92%) and that they're generally happy with their lives at this time (86%), while being the least likely by far to agree that they won't get much benefit from the things they do anytime soon (24%).

Like Houston residents, Philadelphians don't appear to have any especially negative sentiments.

Atlanta, Ga. (34% "very happy")

Atlanta residents are among those most likely to agree that they are optimistic about the future (81%) and that their spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to them (77%), as well as being among the least likely to feel their voices are not heard in national decisions that affect them (67%).

But residents of Atlanta are among the least likely to agree that their relationships with friends bring them happiness (though at 84%, a vast majority still agree with this) and the most likely by far to agree that they frequently worry about their financial situation (71%).

Los Angeles, Calif.(33% "very happy")

L.A. residents are the group least likely to agree that their work is frustrating (32%) and are among those least likely to agree that they rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes they enjoy (28%).

Los Angeles denizens do not show any especially negative tendencies.

NYC Metro, NY (33% "very happy")

The good: New Yorkers are among those most likely to say they rarely worry about their health (57%).

The bad: They are also among those most likely to feel their voices are not heard in national decisions which affect them (73%), to frequently worry about their financial situations (67%) and to find their work frustrating (41%).

Washington, D.C. (33% "very happy")

The District of Columbia is home to many highs and lows, with its residents being among those most likely to say their relationships with friends bring them happiness (94%), they have positive relationships with their family members (91%) and that they're generally happy with their lives at this time (85%), while being among the least likely to frequently worry about their financial situations (56%).

However, D.C. residents are also less likely than those in other major markets to feel optimistic about the future (70%) and among those most likely to find their work frustrating (40%) and to say they won't get much benefit from the things they do anytime soon (39%).

Chicago, Ill. (32% "very happy")

Chicagoans are among those least likely to agree that their voices are not heard in national decisions that affect them (67%) and that they rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes they enjoy (27%).

They are also, however, among those least likely to agree that their relationships with friends bring them happiness (84%), that they're generally happy with their lives at this time (72%) and that they rarely worry about their health (47%).

Boston, Mass. (31% "very happy")

Bostonians are among those least likely to frequently worry about their financial situations (56%).

They are also among those least likely to feel their spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to them (60%) and to agree that they rarely worry about their health (46%).

San Francisco, Calif. (28% "very happy")

Bay area residents are among those most optimistic about the future (79%).

But San Franciscans are among the least likely to feel their spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to them (60%) and that they rarely worry about their health (46%), and they are among those most likely to feel their voices are not heard in national decisions which affect them (73%).

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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