Gallup polls confirm the ‘Happy’ in Happy Valley

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Gyms are packed with athletes strutting their college apparel, bike racks are crowded, students stand in line at the water fountain to fill up their recycled water bottle, and the produce section at Smiths constantly needs refilling. Provo is a healthy college town.

According to recent surveys published by Gallup and the Milken Institute, the Provo area has some of the happiest, healthiest and most optimistic inhabitants. Provo was also listed ninth best performing city out of 200 of the nation’s metropolitan areas in 2011 according to a Milken Institute survey. The survey was based on job, wage and salary and technology growth.

Out of 190 metro areas in the U.S., Provo residents are optimistic and most likely to say their area is getting better as a place to live according to a Gallup poll published Tuesday. Furthermore, Provo ranked number four out of 190 other University Towns in the U.S. in a Gallup Well-being index score published on March 5.

According to the American Lung Association tobacco trends published last year, Provo is populated by 94 percent nonsmokers, with 80 percent nonsmokers in the state as a whole. Some say Provo inhabitants’ health is because of the religious devotion in the area.

“It could be the healthy lifestyle of the members of the church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints],” said Melissa Mortensen, a psychology student from Menan, Idaho. “Even though not all are members, the majority are.”

Students also credit the optimism of Provo residents to their worshiping habits and attitude of BYU students.

“It definitely has to do with the Savior’s influence in our lives,” said Brian Doll, a political science major from McLean, Va. “You look around and everyone is smiling. It’s a good place to be.”

Other residents attribute the great educational achievement to the optimism in Provo.

“The BYU community is full of young students who are very optimistic about their careers,” said Becca Brasher, a recent BYU graduate from Wichita, Kansas. ”Most BYU students get jobs out of college plus there are lots of new businesses opening. In addition, there are businesses like NuSkin that employ the many smart, second- and third-language speakers here.”

The Gallup poll which measured metropolitan dwellers’ optimism about their city found a correlation between income levels and community satisfaction.

“I don’t really agree with that,” said Doll. “We are all college students. We don’t have a lot of money, for the most part, but we are happy. We may not have very much money, but we have a lot of happiness. We’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and we believe in constant progression.”

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