Hawaii, the much-romanticized land of sweeping sunsets, breathtaking beaches and a relaxed approach to life that too often seems to elude mainlanders, is an entirely predictable contender for the top spot on Gallup's annual wellbeing poll. And rightly so - the island paradise claimed the title for the past five years. However, with 2013's results unveiled, the Aloha State's dream run has come to end, with the state conceding defeat - and eight places - to none other than North Dakota.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index takes several factors into account: namely physical health, emotional wellbeing, work and social lives, community, and financial stability. More than 176,000 people were surveyed last year, with the catalogued results revealing telling facts about the shaping of a persons' wellbeing. The Gallup poll was established in 2008, with little variation in results during the short time it's been run. Plains states typically perform well, and as a rule, the higher performing states tend to smoke less and experience a better caliber of overall health, as well as more frequent intellectual engagement.

North Dakota achieved a ranking of 70.4 percent, ranking first in work environment and physical health as well as overall. Low unemployment in the Roughrider State is also noted as a contributing factor, lending residents heightened financial security. Contrarily, residents in lower states reported poorer physical health, including a higher incidence of obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as substantially lower median incomes. States such as Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri have showed sluggish signs of improvement, consistently remaining at the bottom of the rankings since the poll's inception.

"For the most part, well-being goes up with income," said Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, in an interview with 24/7 Wall Street. However, Witters also pointed to a cap on the happiness that money can buy, noting that "emotional health scores kind of hit their peak at about $75,000 a year. And after that point, they really don't get any better."

Witters also acknowledged the role of workplaces and broader communities in encouraging general wellbeing. "There's a lot of things that employers or communities can do structurally, culturally, legislatively, that can positively affect change around well-being," he said, emphasizing the role of accessible education and healthcare in creating a content populace.

North Dakota's southern sibling, South Dakota, came in second, with a wellbeing index score of 70. In third place was Nebraska, followed by Minnesota and Montana respectively, rounding out the top five states. In last place was West Virginia, which has remained in the same position for five consecutive years.  

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