Some people say that happiness exists wherever you find it, and it’s true you can choose to make the most of your circumstances — but there’s no reason not to stack the deck in your favor and maximize your chances for living your best life. After all, we take matters into our own hands every day! Whether you’re stocking your closet with confidence-boosting looks, cutting down on added sugar to help yourself simply feel better, or starting a profile on a new dating app in hopes that you’ll finally stumble upon an S.O. who can complement your awesome life, you’re already taking baby steps toward engineering your own path to happiness. Your well-being is affected by bigger factors too, including where you live. And while you may be able to find happiness wherever you are, it seems that there are certain places where taking those first steps — and reaping their benefits — may just be a little easier.

A woman happily greets fall colors

Earlier this month, WalletHub released the results of their 2017 Happiest States in America study, which compared all 50 states across 28 factors. Key metrics accounted for everything from sleep rates to adult depression to unemployment and volunteerism. Taken together, the data indicates that, generally speaking, the happiest populations are rich in things other than material goods. “Emotional and physical well-being are the most important factors that influence one’s happiness level — not money,” says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez of the results.

WalletHub reviewed previous research on happiness to determine key factors influencing well-being, and every state’s overall emotional and physical well-being was rated on a scale of 50 points. Contributors to this metric include a Purpose Score (defined by Gallup as “liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals,” according to WalletHub), physical health index, the share of adult depression in the population, the adequate sleep rating, life expectancy, and the extent to which populations felt secure in their food supply.

The study’s number-one happiest locale — Minnesota — placed fifth overall in terms of emotional and physical well-being. The Gopher State also had the fifth-best work environment score (accounting for number of work hours, commute time, unemployment rate, share of adults worried about money, and more) and the third-best community and environment rank (determined based on weather, leisure time, divorce rate, safety, and volunteerism). Not surprisingly (if you’re a lover of the island life, at least), Hawaii came out on top in terms of emotional and physical well-being, followed by California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.

Which states didn’t perform so well? Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arkansas finished in the last five spots on the well-being scale, and their overall rankings on the list suffered as a result.

Scroll down for a list of the 15 states deemed happiest by WalletHub. You can check out complete rankings and more details on the study directly on their site.

A woman walks her dog in a park in Minneapolis, MN

Top 15 Happiest States in America

1. Minnesota

2. Utah

3. Hawaii

4. California

5. Nebraska

6. New Jersey

7. South Dakota

8. Iowa

9. Wisconsin

10. New Hampshire

11. Mayland

12. Virginia

13. Vermont

14. North Dakota

15. Colorado

Does your state deserve a spot on the short list? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)