"Happiness is an Activity"

A philosophy professor I once had used to define Aristotle's idea of happiness that way: "Happiness is an activity, and the particular kind of activity that it is, is rational activity in accord with excellence."

Toward which, a map of red/blue states as refined from the last three elections:

...and a list of the happiest states. "A new study found that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of state-level happiness." What did these unified studies find?

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Alaska
12. North Carolina
13. Wyoming
14. Idaho
15. South Dakota
16. Texas
17. Arkansas
18. Vermont
19. Georgia
20. Oklahoma
21. Colorado
22. Delaware
23. Utah
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. New Hampshire
28. Virginia
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Massachusetts
44. Ohio
45. Illinois
46. California
47. Indiana
48. Michigan
49. New Jersey
50. Connecticut
51. New York
There are few blue states in the top twenty, Maine, Hawaii, and Vermont. Hawaii, as we know, is really its own little world. The others are part of the Northeast, but eccentrict members of that club. Vermont has the best firearms laws in the United States, so that the NRA often refers to "Vermont-style carry" as the ideal. Maine, we know from our studies of armed forces recruiting, boasts military service well above average for the Northeast, and the highest percentage of service academy admissions of any state.

Now, look at the cluster from 40 down -- even a few above 40, but the very bottom of the list. Indiana, where there is a severe and sustained economic crisis, is the only pink state on the list. The rest are the deepest blue parts of the country.

One of the state-based criteria for happiness was population density, so one could argue that the study was biased against populous states of the sort that tend towards blue policies (because that's where the blue-trending political organizations are concentrated: unions, for example). Yet the person-by-person 'self-reported' happiness lines up with these things. That would seem to confirm that, far from being 'bias,' population density is a fair standard for happiness.

Confer. I'm interested in your thoughts.

No comments: