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Happy in the Palmetto State

Posted: February 10, 2011 11:45 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Those of us who are lucky enough to live in South Carolina are accustomed to reading all those quality-of-life surveys that usually place us among the dregs of society.

You know the ones I’m talking about -- those that usually show the Palmetto State near the bottom of the barrel in categories such as  income, education, health and an assortment of other measuring sticks.

So it was with some surprise that I read an article not long ago in which the “happiness factor” was measured by researchers. And by golly, South Carolina and several other states which normally are trashed by researchers turned out to have the happiest people.

Out of the 10 states in which people say they are most content, five are in the South: Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama. That doesn’t count Florida, which came in at number three.

Florida might be located next to Georgia and Alabama, but it’s really not a Southern state because so many of the people have migrated there from various locations above the Mason-Dixon Line. Drive down to Orlando or Jacksonville or Miami and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single person with a drawl.

 (And besides: how can Floridians be happy when their number-one activity is shuffleboard?)

Like all surveys, you have to take this one for what it is. It was conducted by a government agency (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention), and the two people who analyzed most of the data were from New York, which is a state where I wouldn’t want to live, and England, which as far as I know is not a state.

Of course, there’s plenty to like about living in South Carolina, even given the fact that summer is not one of them. Winters are mild, springs are terrific, people are friendly and nearly every resident realizes that football is way more important than soccer.

Guess which state finished last?

New York, with its traffic-clogged highways, stratospheric tax rates, rude motorists and upturned noses. Serves ‘em right, and we really didn’t need a survey to tell us that Noo Yawkers aren’t always happy people.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of Rust Belt states that finished near the bottom of the survey. I guess when your jobs are all moving away and you have to put up with all that snow, you can’t be too happy.

A couple years ago, a worldwide study indicated that residents of Denmark were the most satisfied people in the world. But one of the factors in that equation was that Danes are remarkably pessimistic, and their low expectations for life led them to being satisfied more easily than other people, despite the fact that Denmark has horrid weather, a high level of alcohol abuse and terrible food.

I don’t think a poor outlook is the case with South Carolina’s high ranking. Unlike the Danes, we have pretty high expectations, and there’s a lot to like about where we live.

We have a few things that aren’t great, too, but I’m not going to nitpick. I’m just glad that the Palmetto State has finally finished in the upper echelon of at least one survey.

I’m so happy, in fact, that if a few Danes want to move here, we’ll welcome ‘em with open arms, sandy beaches, gorgeous azaleas, scenic mountains and a cheerful outlook.

And those things, my friends, they’ll never find in New York.

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