The happiest & unhappiest states in the union

Gallup has compiled various statistics about “well-being” (health, work, emotional satisfaction, etc.) and has come up with a ranking of  states according to how happy they are.  The most happy states, according to this study, are North Dakota and South Dakota.  The least happy is West Virginia.  In general, the happiest states are those of the upper midwest, and the least happy are those of the deep south.

Now I grant that such studies are very limited and that happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be.  But let’s use this as an occasion to discuss regional differences.

See the top 10 and the bottom 10 after the jump, and go to the Gallup site for more details.

How would you account for the differences?  Some preliminary observations and questions:  The least happy states are poorer than normal, though the wealthiest states are not necessarily the happiest.  Is there something about rural economies, wide-open spaces, and/or natural beauty (especially mountains) that correlate to happiness?  What about the religious differences  (Lutheran strongholds vs. Baptist strongholds)?  What else?  And maybe someone who lives there can tell us what’s so great about the Dakotas. [Read more...]

Why heroin

Thanks to Kirk and to the recommendations from Al, Elizabeth, and Todd at yesterday’s post for alerting me to this touching and illuminating account from British comedian Russell Brand about why he used heroin, how he got clean and has been for 10 years, and how he is still tempted. [Read more...]

Demonic possession & exorcism in Indiana?

The Indianapolis Star reports on a case of apparent demon possession and successful exorcism in Gary, Indiana.  I don’t know what I think of all of this, but this case–complete with walking on a ceiling and many other seemingly supernatural manifestations–is unusually well-attested, with police witnesses, psychologists, the Department of Child Services,  and the Roman Catholic Church all weighing in.

Reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski has written a bit of journalism that will leave you on the edge of your seat.  But don’t read it late at night.  I’ll get you started after the jump. [Read more...]

Signs of being divorce-proof

Here are five bits of social science research that would indicate a person is unlikely to get a divorce.  The post completely leaves out more important factors, such as not believing in divorce and the role of Christian faith.  Still, the list of factors, while on the shallow side, is interesting and amusing.  (But please, don’t read them after the jump if you are going to beat your spouse over the head with them!) [Read more...]

Faith & feelings

Are your emotions often out of synch with your faith?  Does God feel far away?  Do your dry feelings make you wonder  if you even have genuine faith?  Are you plagued with lingering guilt, dark thoughts, and spiritual depression?  Maybe you need to hear this presentation from Rod Rosenbladt.

The audio and the lecture notes are available free from New Reformation Press.  A summary after the jump. [Read more...]

Don’t make eye contact

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” we might say when trying to get through to a child we are trying to discipline.  “He looked me straight in the eye,” we might say of someone trying to sell us something.  “Keep eye contact,” we might remind ourselves in a job interview.  According to the latest research, though, eye contact can actually make it harder to win someone over. [Read more...]


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