WalletHub, one of those polling groups that appears in my email on scattered occasions, has released its 2019 rankings of the Happiest States in America.

Guess what, to the surprise of just about no one, Hawaii is the happiest state.

WalletHub ranks West Virginia as the least happiest state, with Virginia earning a No. 14 ranking.

States were ranked on several parameters, including community and environment, work environment and emotional and physical well-being.

WalletHub used 31 key indicators in its rankings, with obvious indicators of happiness such as highest or lowest crime rate, divorce rate and most or least affordable housing, but it also used less familiar indicators such as most or fewest hours of sleep each night or highest number of psychologists per capita.

Louisiana is the most-stressed out state, while Virginia did pretty well as the 32nd most stressed state.

Plano, Texas, ranks as the happiest place to live, with three North Carolina cities, Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham, ranking 23rd, 52nd and 60th, respectively, in that ranking.

The happiest place to live in Virginia, if you believe WalletHub, is Virginia Beach, ranked No. 70.

Happiness, in my book, is a state of mind, not so much as making a lot of money.

As long as I’m comfortable in my lifestyle and have family and friends that care about me, and vice-versa, I’m okay.

My trip to Nathalie and the North Halifax Volunteer Fire Department Marathon on Saturday is a case in point, where I had the opportunity to re-connect with a lot of good folks I don’t get a chance to see very often.

If I want the nightlife and want to boogie, so to speak, as Alicia Bridges put it in her disco song many years ago, I can get in my car and travel to Richmond and visit my friends and old stomping grounds.

At this point in my life, it doesn’t take much to excite me — maybe an afternoon in my easy chair with the cat in my lap with the satellite at 100% operating capacity, but having my favorite sports teams win on a more consistent basis may be a bit too much to ask at this point.

Waking up every morning and putting two feet on the floor has become more satisfying than ever as I’ve grown older, and that should rank up there as a sign of happiness, as well as willingness to look out for one’s neighbor.

I don’t even know who the most popular super model is now, that’s how far out of touch I am today, if you can call that being out of touch.

In my case, that may be a relief.


On a more somber note, Wednesday marks the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

I recall standing in the kitchen at The Gazette office with co-workers and watching one of the towers of the World Trade Center being struck.

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and let’s never forget our neighbors, friends and emergency responders who lost their lives that day.

Who knows what ordinary people are capable of when confronted with extraordinary situations requiring extraordinary sacrifices, like the passengers of Flight 93 and Todd Beamer, who along with his fellow passengers rushed the cockpit and forced the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field rather than its intended target, said to be the U.S. Capitol.

“Let’s roll,” Beamer said, an exhortation we all can apply to our efforts at becoming better people.

Maybe we can all stop calling each other names and criticizing each other long enough to realize we’re all in this together.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.