The sun sets behind mountains on New Year's Eve in Honolulu. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Which state's residents are most fulfilled?

Hawaii's, of course. The island — often compared to paradise — scores highest on a new ranking of states by residents' well-being. But, if that was obvious, the state that ranked second may not be: it's ice-cold Alaska.

That's according to the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a ranking that seeks to capture how residents of each state feel about their sense of purpose and community, social and financial status and physical health. The ranking is based on more than 175,000 telephone interviews of adults conducted throughout 2015.


Nationally, America's well-being was statistically the same between 2014 and 2015.

That's not to say attitudes aren't improving. Financial well-being rose and American perceptions and ratings of their lives reached an all-time high. At the same time, food and health-care insecurity and smoking rates fell.

But there is some backsliding, too. Obesity continued to climb and more part-time employees were seeking full-time work.

In the end, the West won out, claiming all but two of the top 10 spots. The South dominated the bottom of the list, claiming all but three of the bottom 10.

Hawaii returned to its top ranking — a title it has held five times since 2008. Alaska fell one spot to second place, followed by Montana, Colorado and Wyoming.

Delaware scored highest by sense of purpose; South Carolinians were most socially fulfilled; Alaskans felt most financially secure; Montanans were happiest with their sense of community; and Hawaii scored highest by physical well-being.

West Virginia ranked dead last, just behind Kentucky. (Both states have brought up the rear since 2008.) Oklahoma was next. Ohio and Indiana tied for 47th place, just behind Missouri.

Alabama was most improved, rising 18 spots from the year before.


The most-improved states. (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index)

Vermont fell hardest, dropping 16 spots.


The states that fell furthest. (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index)