us map with words

I am a sucker for these polls in magazines and newspapers. The polls that show the “Healthiest Cities in the U.S.” / “Richest Cities in the U.S.” / “Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.” So when I stumbled across an article at NBC.com a few weeks ago titled Here are the happiest, saddest and ‘most miserable’ U.S. cities I gladly stopped whatever important thing I was doing (online shopping for a bar cart, because it’s my newest obsession) and read the article.

What to know what I found? Chicago was ranked as #4 Most Miserable Cities. Excuse me? CHICAGO? I wasn’t surprised that Napa was #1 as happiest. In fact I wasn’t even a little bit surprised that out of the 10 Happiest Cities, California hosted 5 of them. And being that until 9 months ago I have always lived in California, maybe that’s why I have always enjoyed these “cities in the U.S.” articles so much. But to put Chicago on the most miserable list just offended me.

And so, I did what any insulted person with google does – I did a little research. I read a great article from the Los Angeles Times about happiness. I also found a great new psychologist and author Sonja Lyubomirsky who suggests that 50 percent of happiness is genetically predetermined, while 10% is due to life circumstances, and 40 percent is the result of your own personal outlook. Please note that she didn’t mention a single percentage is based on where your city ranks on any list. And if due to life circumstances involves your environment, your city, where you live that’s only a small fraction of what makes one happy.

It makes me genuinely wonder how we can rank cities in such a broad way. How did these cities make it on the most miserable list? I know that I am incredibly happy here, as are my close friends (otherwise I’d kick them out of my inner circle, right?). Can it possibly be that so much of the city of Chicago has encountered such unfortunate life experiences that the 10% life circumstances factor is pulling us down? Maybe it’s the weather? I just don’t know. I realize these articles aren’t the be all, super serious pieces of literature – but I do have to stop and question it just a bit. It makes me question the validity of all these “Cities in the US” articles now that I’m not on the happy list anymore, and that’s just the sad truth. Tell me I’m lucky to live in the happiest place on Earth and I’ll agree with you without fact checking a single word – tell me I live in one of the most miserable places in the U.S. and I’ll write an entire blog post about it.

What about you? Where do you live in conjunction with the happy / the sad / and the miserable? Do you agree with your ranking?

if you’re lucky enough to love where you live so much that you have to defend it, you’re lucky enough

Map image via.


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