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These are the happiest cities in the US

by A. Pawlowski / / Source: TODAY

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When it comes to feeling happy, your home state may be key to your state of mind.

Next to genetics, geography is the biggest determinant of bliss, says Dan Buettner, author of the new National Geographic book, "The Blue Zones of Happiness" and the accompanying November cover story of National Geographic magazine.

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Buettner, who travels the world to explore places where people live extraordinarily healthy and long lives, has turned his attention from longevity to happiness. Satisfaction can come in many forms, he has found.

“You want to enjoy life day to day,” Buettner told TODAY correspondent Cynthia McFadden. “You want to look back on your life and be proud of it. And you want to live a purpose-driven life. There are different triggers to optimize each of those different kinds of happiness.”

  Courtesy National Geographic

Where are the happiness “hot spots” closest to home? Working with Gallup and Sharecare to come up with more than a dozen definitions of a happy life, Buettner identified 25 U.S. cities where contentment is especially high. It turns out environment has a profound impact on our psychology.

Residents of these cities say they feel safe, enjoy being active and productive, manage their money well, make time for vacations, eat well and learn something new or interesting every day.

Boulder, Colorado, topped the list, with Buettner noting its sense of community, natural surroundings and walkability. Residents don't smoke or overeat. Bikes are a common sight.

"There's a high correlation between bikeability and happiness in a city," Buettner says in National Geographic. "In Boulder, you're more likely to hear the whoosh of a cyclist than the shrill of a siren compared to places like Dallas, Tallahassee or Los Angeles. Cities like Boulder question the unquestioned virtues of development."

Here are the top 25 happiest communities on the list:

  Courtesy National Geographic

1. Boulder, Colorado

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California

3. Charlottesville, Virginia

4. Fort Collins, Colorado

5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles Arroyo Grande, California

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

7. Provo-Orem, Utah

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

10. Anchorage, Alaska

11. Naples-Imokalee-Marco Island, Florida

12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

13. Salinas, California

14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

15. Honolulu, Hawaii

16. Ann Arbor, Michigan

17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

18. Colorado Springs, Colorado

19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire

20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

21. Washington, D.C.- Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia

22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin

23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California

24. Portland-South Portland, Maine

25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

The findings are based on almost 250,000 interviews with adults in 190 metro areas in the U.S. conducted for the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

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