National Geographic Explorer

National Geographic Explorer set out to find the happiest cities in the U.S. and the 25 on top can be found at the link. Lots of them are in California, often derided by Donald Trump and the people who vote for him.

No. 1 was Boulder, Colorado.

The article explains the ranking and, farther along, Arkansas got a mention:


National Geographic bestselling author Dan Buettner and Gallup’s social scientists teamed up to develop an index that assesses measurable expressions of happiness and identifies where Americans are living their best lives. Designed by Gallup senior scientist Dan Witters, the study established 15 metrics—from eating healthy and learning something new every day to civic engagement, financial security, vacation time, and even dental checkups—that signal happiness. The National Geographic Gallup Special/Blue Zones Index draws on nearly 250,000 interviews conducted with adults from 2014 to 2015 in 190 metropolitan areas across the U.S.

At the bottom of the index (not included in our list) are America’s least-happy places, according to the study: Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, North Carolina. Research indicates that the variabilities of place play an important role in whether locals feel happy. In happier places, according to Buettner, locals smile and laugh more often, socialize several hours a day, have access to green spaces, and feel that they are making purposeful progress toward achieving life goals. For our index, it tracked factors that are statistically associated with doing well and feeling well; these include feeling secure, taking vacations, and having enough money to cover basic needs.

The ranking recalls the infamous putdown by Arkansas Gazette editorial writer Jim Powell after something or another newsworthy happened in Fort Smith years ago. It went something like, “Far from the civilizing influences of Central Arkansas.” Or maybe it was, “So close to Tulsa, so far from God.”

In any case, I’ll turn the floor over to Death by Inches to rise in defense of his hometown of Fort Baptist. (Coincidentally, Fort Smith was in the news in the daily newspaper today for how the local government got taken to the cleaners by a state senator on a parks project.)


The map shows a void in Dixie, save Austin. Indeed, the deeper report on the survey findings shows Arkansas in the band of states with the lowest “well-being” score. Poverty is a factor.

Respondents from the lowest ranked states were more likely to report worse physical and financial health: They were more likely to smoke, be obese, and have little interest in life. They also reported not having enough money to buy food or healthcare.

A map indicates that Arkansas and the Fort Smith and Little Rock metro areas are among those in the bottom third of well-being scores. A cheerier note: another map indicates that the Fayetteville-to-Rogers metro area ranks in the top third.


Many metro areas surpass their own state’s well-being. This is especially true of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area, which is a top-ranked urban area in low-ranking Arkansas. Satisfaction with daily life received the biggest boost: For example, 81 percent of urban dwellers said they enjoy what they do every day, compared to only 76 percent for the state as a whole.