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Happy you live Hawaii, despite shortcomings


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POSTED: Sunday, August 16, 2009

Regarded in some circles as “;tax hell,”; bad for business, priced out of affordability and jarred by a hurricane every decade or so, people who live in Hawaii know better. Part of the unflattering reputation may be deserved, but Hawaii residents are the happiest in the country, according to an index based on interviews conducted in the first six months of this year by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being.

The index measures what the World Health Organization defines as health — “;not only the absence of infirmity and disease but also a state of physical, mental and social well-being,”; according to the pollsters. It tries to “;measure what it is that people believe constitutes a good life, who is feeling good about life and who is need of a helping hand.”; People in the Plains and the West generally reported feeling better. Hawaii replaces Utah as the happiest place to live.

Among the six categories of wellness, Hawaii was judged No. 1 in emotional health, a factoring of smiling or laughter, learning or doing something interesting, being treated with respect, enjoyment, happiness, anger, stress and depression. The islands slipped from last year's top spot in the category of life evaluation — self-evaluation of one's present life situation and anticipated life situation five years from now.

In other categories, Hawaii was in the top 10 last year in physical health, based on sick leave and other health-related experiences; healthy behavior such as eating healthy, consuming fruit and vegetables, exercising and not smoking; and “;basic access”; to such things as clean water, affordable and healthy food, a comfortable place to live, health insurance and dental care.

That is not to say that everything is perfect or close to it in Hawaii, which scored high not because of Joe's and Jane's work climate but in spite of it. When it comes to overall feelings about job satisfaction, ability to use one's strengths at work, a supervisor's treatment — like a boss or a partner — and “;an open and trusting work environment,”; Hawaii is close to the bottom.

When chief executive officers from across the country responded to a poll taken earlier this year, they ranked Hawaii last in the quality of its work force. The Hawaii work force's opinion of its bosses placed 50th in last year's Gallup-Healthways poll, replaced at the very bottom this year by Delaware.

“;What we have here is a failure to communicate,”; as Cool Hand Luke's captain observed. Or is that Rodney King begging, “;Can we all get along?”;