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American health and contentment ratings compared to IQ and poverty - Click pix

This chart came from the internet and there is no way to know the accuracy of its conclusions, but it appears well done and properly documented. My posts of the previous few days have been about the noticeable atmosphere of contentment here in Bend, Oregon. On the chart above Oregon rates as an 18 of 50 on contentment which is better than the national average. Of course the majority of Oregon’s population live west of the Cascades mountains in Portland and the other larger cities, and it may be that the eastern sides ratings, and Bend, might be more accurately compared to the northern mountain states, Bend is only two percent of Oregon’s population – Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, North & South Dakota and Wyoming. All of these states rate as very good on the contentment scores.

But what is contentment when compared to happiness and pleasure? It is difficult to know how those terms were defined on the cart above, so they could be measured on a statewide level, but from some travel experience these do seem to match my personal feelings. So for discussion I will accept them.

Beginning from my perspective on the Probaway Happiness Scale, published in 2005 these terms were defined as — Happiness is a belief that a hoped-for state of affairs is coming into existence. Pleasure is limited to the positive feelings of the moment. Contentment is the feeling that a hoped for state actually exists. The Happiness Scale lists 15 levels of happiness based on philosophical schools, whose primary end goal of happiness was arranged on the chart by time extension. It goes from instantaneousness survival in the moment through daily life situations up to religious gurus creating methods for social improvement of everyone. Each of these types of happiness would have a corresponding form of pleasure and contentment.

For example a basic middle value of Happiness of Epicureanism HAPS~6 — Pleasure in acquiring and possessing good things and it would have the momentary pleasure of consuming the item or the longer term contentment of observing and enjoying the item as fulfilling an expansive goal in a sustained way.  A higher level value of Happiness, that of Utilitarianism HAPS~12 — Guiding the groups large and difficult task to a positive result, would have the pleasure of observing these people performing and the contentment of seeing a large socially valued task through to its completed state.

The condition of contentment in the chart above probably was based on a very low-level of measured value, about the level of Happiness of Eroticism HAPS~2 — Consuming of vital foods and activities which tend to promote a physical well-being. This makes sense because the other measured values, like theft, divorce, impoverishment are at a low-level of social wellbeing, perhaps even HAPS~0 Surviving from some life threatening stressor. Contentment at these low levels is very close to simple instantaneous pleasure. It appears that the higher on the Happiness Scale one is living at the moment the more extensive is their concept of contentment both in time and space.

If this approach is correct then those places which rate highest on health, the absence of disease, and also on contentment the satisfaction of things being appropriate the way they presently exist, should have low crime rates, less impoverishment and low divorce rates. The chart seems to present that fact clearly, although it is an observation made after the data has been collected, and may have been biased in the presentation.

Perhaps the most comfortable places to live in the United States would be found by moving to a quite locality in one of the states ranking best in health and contentment. That would be – Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington … I began these thoughts based in Central Oregon which I think is better ranked with the mountain states, and my observations here is that people are remarkably friendly and apparently contented with their situation. This is a little strange because the local job economy for the last five years has been poor, but there are no signs of desperation. The lowest levels of contentment requires the economy to be good but even the higher levels require the basics of survival to adequate before stability can be appreciated.

Contentment is had when you intentionally accept what are immersed within.