…. according to mainstreet.com and their "happiness index." This particular index measures financial happiness – unemployment, % of non-mortgage debt, and foreclosures.
Evidently people in the midwest are less likely to live beyond their means – which is being equated to financial happiness. I could've told them that. I grew up having the adage "if you can't pay for it DON'T BUY IT" drilled into my head. We rank high in other areas as well (education comes to mind). I throw that in only to negate the comment I heard about 'happiness can be equated to low intelligence.'
Sure we have crappy weather, but I think it makes us more adaptable people. We try to seize the day. In winter it's time for either going outside and sledding, or staying inside and eating soup (and in my case, knitting!). Spring brings us the fresh new start – Earl May garden center is jam-packed in spring with people buying seeds and flowers for their lawns and gardens. A lot of people are planting Recession Gardens – I guess they listened to me when I said we need to get back to the Victory Garden mentality.
Iowa is family-friendly. Our communities have their downfalls – everybody knows pretty much what everyone else is doing. But that brings with it accountability. We don't yell at people in grocery store parking lots about whether or not they put their carts in the shopping cart corral – because if we did, by the time we got back home 100 people would know about it. (You think I'm kidding). We also adhere to what some might call "quaint" values. I'm talking about going to church. I'm not in the least ashamed to say that my community has no less than (gotta stop and count!) 4 churches in town, one church directly outside of town, and at least 3 or 4 churches "out in the country." Does that make us small-minded? Maybe sometimes. Does it make us a little more accountable? Yes. It also gives us a strong sense of community.
It's nice to know that every year the Methodist church will have their pancake breakfast, and the men of the church step up and do the cooking. I asked once why that was, and the reply was, "The women do a lot. We figure we need to step in and do this."
I have to mention one more type of accountability – what most in small towns call "the old ladies." I like old ladies. You all know them, or remember them from your own childhood. The women who have lived a long life and weren't afraid to tell you (or anybody else) that you were acting like a jerk in the grocery store, or ask you why the heck you weren't in school. And you just KNEW she was going to go straight home and call your parents. Which is why Iowa kids generally don't skip school. Which is probably why we are ranked higher in education. (so there) Bottom line is, I just had to brag on Iowa. It's a great place to live. And heck, we even ranked higher than Hawaii! Keep your stinking beaches. We have old ladies.