The work environment category would, no doubt, take into account dangerous conditions that come with working in certain industries. We have our share of those, but so do other states. And sometimes West Virginia is unfairly penalized in terms of "per capita" statistics. The fact that we have a smaller population can often make for more startling results simply because our base is so small.
Which leaves the categories of emotional health and life evaluation, two of the most important, in my opinion. And that's where I think we shine.
Ask anyone who knows anything about West Virginia's people, and I'll bet you hear comments like this: "friendly," "they take their time with you," "they really care" and "they're the friendliest people in the country."
I have some friends, Matt and Maria, who visited me awhile back from Washington, D.C. I lived in that area before I moved to Charleston, so I have a good barometer on the contrasts between the two areas.
After our visit in Charleston, Matt and Maria decided to take a meandering route back home so they could spend some time traveling around the state. You guessed it: Their report back to me was that we have the friendliest people on earth -- hands down.
Case in point: They were enjoying some time in Pocahontas County and ended up spending a pleasurable night at a motel near Marlinton. When checking out the next morning, Matt pulled out his credit card and was informed that the motel didn't take credit cards. They'd be glad to take a check, though.
The only problem was Matt and Maria had not brought a checkbook along. Think about it: When traveling these days, most of us use credit cards for the convenience and to save the hassle of trying to get an out-of-state check approved.
The proprietor of the motel saw the "deer-in-the-headlights" look on Matt's face as he explained he didn't have a check. No sooner had he gotten the sentence out of his mouth than the proprietor offered, "That's OK. You can just mail it to me when you get back home."
Let me repeat that: "You can just mail it to me when you get home."
I can just see that city boy's jaw dropping to the floor. He couldn't believe his ears, whereupon she reassured him that she trusted him and that everything would be all right.
As things turned out, Matt and Maria had enough cash on them to pay for the night's lodging, so they didn't need to take the proprietor up on her offer. You'd better believe, though, that this story has definitely made the rounds in the greater D.C. area!
So, I'm thinking friendliness has to be an important factor in the reflection of one's emotional health. While this certainly isn't based on anything scientific, it just seems there would be a correlation between the two. After all, "happy" and "friendly" seem to go hand in hand.
And I'd also venture to say that one's "life evaluation" (however that's measured) would be reflected in the way they treat other people. You can only be consumed with anger, sadness and rage on the inside for so long before it shows up on the outside.
So, it just doesn't add up to me that we've been the unhappiest state for three years running -- and still win the gold medal for friendliness.
Maybe the Gallup pollsters need to consider friendliness as a measurement tool. While I'd like our state to get higher marks in the other areas -- and I know we're addressing those -- I'm proud to be known as the state with the friendliest people. It sure ranks right up there with fruits and vegetables.
Food for thought.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.