Thursday, March 12, 2009

Welcome To The Happy Zipcode

Love a title. Stick a "something" on a poll and you've got yourself a_____. Today the buzz is all about (EHI.) Never heard of it.. me neither, but it's nice to know I have one/could get one/might want one I guess..

Emotional Health Index (EHI) — a measure that weighs negatives such as depression, worry and stress against the positive feelings a person experienced the day before the survey. Done nearly every day in 2008 and still ongoing, the survey of 355,334 people is believed to be the largest, longest and most thorough poll showing how emotional well-being shifts with economic changes.

Thank goodness for the poll otherwise I might not have noticed:

*Americans' moods were ultra-sensitive to economic news. Well-being plunged on days when the Dow lost big and with reports of high jobless claims.

*A state's EHI correlated with high rates of death from ailments such as heart disease, says Gallup analyst Raksha Arora. States with a lot of open space or sunshine — Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming — had some of the best emotional health even as the economy sank. Many poorer and Rust Belt states — West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky — were worst off.

The survey attempts to measure people's well-being. It examines their eating and exercise habits, work environment and access to basic necessities, just to name some of the criteria. It's not just about physical health, It's about their ability to contribute at work and be more productive, and it's about feeling engaged in a community and wanting to improve that community. What's not to love about this proactive approach? But what if it's still missing the point?

The massive survey involved more than 350,000 interviews. Examples of the questions include: Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your job or the work you do? Did you eat healthy all day yesterday? Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live? Check boxes yes, and satisfied moving forward.

The survey, which takes about 15 minutes, involved 42 core questions. Those taking the survey could get a score of up to 100. The actual difference between states wasn't great: The average score for the highest-ranking state, Utah, was 69.2 points, while the average for the lowest-ranking state, West Virginia, was 61.2 points. Geographic divides could be overstated and even the states with the highest scores had significant work to do to improve certain aspects of their residents' health and happiness.

Researchers hope the findings will help employers better understand what they can do to create more productive workers. Eventually, the data could even be used to compare health and happiness by ZIP code. The survey is going to be generated for 25 years, according to current plans. What I have yet to figure out is how can empirically derived data be the one stop shopping spot for all things bright and smiley? After I took the survey, scored well but still scratched my head as the survey says I am happy, who am I to question.

Time to toss my Prozac? Nah...I think the happiness survey misses the point. Can't put my finger on it but when I figure what that might be you'll be the first to know.


Anonymous said...

Love your quote today.

SusanB said...

Less and less happy here in LG, but perhaps the correction will be good with less consumption. Unless of course that means more big box stores.

runner_girl said...

I am not so sure everyone in our zipcode is happy. I hear enough sob stories from girl friends running the gamit from not happy with life in general to wanting to make a change but not sure how, so of course a survey would miss these entirely.

Anonymous said...

what a drag it is getting old..when we discover blissful days of youth are fleeting and a stop payment has been placed on our reality check(s)..

but new recipes for giddiness can be derived from feelings of self worth..

u can change the exterior facade but if your interior is debborah downer u will exchange hapless for happiness..

so many out there chasing the grand illusion..not understanding
its the simple pleasures that matter most..

so go out and get you some some good deeds..hold a door for someone..flash those pearly whites..and be genuine..

eradicate your heart of darkness or funky cloud..or mass convection zone..and reinstate some contentment..

Anonymous said...

well said. Care to share any other deep seated cosmic vibes??