Are you happy? The answer to that question is a tad complicated, but the researchers in the hinterlands have been diligent in their quest to provide us with the data necessary to make an educated guess. 


We're lucky we live in the United States because on the whole we're a fairly contented bunch. The brainiacs at the Visual Capitalist have mapped out happiness across the globe. “Happiness levels depend on a number of factors, including one’s financial security, perceptions of social support, feelings of personal freedom, and much more.”


Worldwide happiness comes in at an average score of 5.6 (out of a possible 10). The U.S. And Canada scored a 7.0, while the Dominican Republic (at 5.7) was the least happy in North America.


There are many sad places on the planet. You may want to avoid Afghanistan (2.4) and Zimbabwe (3.0). The happiest countries in the world were Finland(7.8), Denmark (7.6), Sweden (7.4), and Norway (7.4). See detailed maps at: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-global-happiness-levels-in-2022/.


One reason for our happiness in this country is that we have some really good snacks. Experts at Food and Wine put their taste buds to work and came up with the best snack in every state. Many favorites were variations of candies and sweets. Some were a bit of a mystery: kelp pickles in Alaska, toasted kamut in Montana, and wasna in South Dakota. 


Michigan's winner was Better Made Potato Chips (made in Detroit).  “Better Made potato chips remain, appreciated by connoisseurs both near and far as one of the finest examples of the genre in the entire country. Don't forget an icy cold glass bottle of Faygo Redpop to go with.” See all the snacks at: https://www.foodandwine.com/travel/best-snack-every-state.


While you're thinking of states, the folks at Fifty Grande note that there are things to see and do in every locale. “Every American state has a defining feature, something that makes it stand out from the other forty-nine and gives it a certain allure.”


For Michigan, the advice to get lost on a Great Lakes island. “The Upper Peninsula and northern part of Michigan’s mitten may have America’s best untamed wilderness outside Alaska. However, the stars of Michigan's scenic show are the islands that sit inside the Great Lakes. North and South Manitou are probably the best known.  There’s also Isle Royale National Park, one of the least-visited parks in the system. For a little more luxury step back in time at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, where no cars are allowed and horse-drawn carriages still rule the streets.” See all the attractions at: https://www.fiftygrande.com/what-to-do-in-every-state/


You know, some states have gone to the dogs. It turns out that the humans in some states tend to spoil their furry friends to the extreme. “Nearly one in three dogs are spoiled more than the owner’s partner. Some dog owners (28%) said they spend more money spoiling their dog than they spend spoiling their significant other. Women (30%) were more likely than men (22%) to say that they shell out more to spoil their pooch than their partner.”


Forbes Advisor says if you're a pooch, you want to live in one of the places that spoil you the most: New York, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. On the other hand, living in South Dakota, Arkansas, or Wyoming may be less desirable. Michigan came in at number thirty-six. See the complete listing at: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/pet-insurance/states-with-most-spoiled-dogs/.


Related to dogs, if your dog in unhappy perhaps a nightmare is the cause. “Turns out bad dreams are not just a nuisance for humans, our furry friends can experience them as well. Though the sleeping patterns of man's best friend differ in some ways from our own, there are striking similarities, including the ability to get frightened in the night.” 


The AKC notes that there are indications that your pup is having a nightmare: growling, crying, snarling, loud barking, shaking, and twitching. “Making a comfortable environment can be a preventative measure. Nightmares in dogs can be triggered by noises or chronic pain. Eliminating catalysts can help your pup get a better night's rest.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/08/20/do-dogs-have-nightmares/7833772001/)


Finally, one key to happiness is to just feel better. An aspect of this could be a simple as a glass of water. EatingWell.com observes: “Even just being slightly dehydrated—to the tune of two percent—can lead to symptoms like headaches, lightheadedness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and fatigue. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important for your overall health. Incorporating H2O early in the day can help ensure you're hitting your daily water quota.” 


Now, think about this. When you wake up in the morning you likely haven't had anything to drink for about eight hours, so you're probably waking up a bit dehydrated. “Drinking water regularly, beginning in the morning, can help prevent dehydration. Following a dedicated morning routine can be a great way to set the tone, and may even help lead to more effective planning and execution of health-promoting behaviors as the day progresses." 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews