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Tuesday
Mar082011

The Happiest Person in America? Meet Alvin Wong, 69-Year-Old Hawaiian

Digital Vision/Thinkstock (HONOLULU) -- Alvin Wong always considered himself a happy guy.

"I get up in the morning and say, 'I'm very fortunate. I'm living in Hawaii, doing what I want to do,'" Wong said.

But when Wong, 69, learned he is the exact statistical composite of the happiest person in America, he wasn't sure what to think. 

"When The New York Times called and read off all the information about who this person is, I asked if it was a practical joke."

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the happiest person in America is a tall, Asian-American male 65 or older, a resident of Hawaii who's married with children, religious (observant Jews score highest), owns a business and earns more than $120,000 a year -- in other words, it's Alvin Wong to a tee.

"A person fitting the happiest profile is likely to have high optimism, good emotional health with little anger, depression, and stress, and no underlying chronic illnesses. This person is likely to eat right and exercise regularly, while working in a supportive environment with good access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, a safe place to exercise, and good access to health care. The person is also likely to be older and better established with enough money to live comfortably," said John Harris, vice president of Innovations at Healthways.

Wong, who owns a health care management firm, said owning his own business has different stresses, such as not knowing whether clients will stick with him, but overall, it's very satisfying.

"I enjoy doing stuff for myself and seeing the fruits of my labor," he said.

Back in 2008, Gallup, a firm known for its research polls, and Healthways, a company focusing on research aimed at improving overall health and lowering associated costs, started calling thousands of Americans a night. They asked questions about six different dimensions of well-being: a basic evaluation of life, emotional and physical health, work environment, engaging in a healthy lifestyle and whether access to basic health services is available.

They then developed a well-being index for each state and each congressional district.

Data from the 2010 index show that Hawaii had the highest well-being score and West Virginia had the lowest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







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