To those who are surprised by the sense of well-being described by North Dakotans, the residents of that state can only say, "You just have to experience it."

The pollsters at Gallup report that, when state residents are quizzed in depth about how happy they are with their state, North Dakota always scores high. In its most recent poll, conducted during 2013, the Peace Garden State topped the list.

Of course, it's a small satisfied population: 725,000, about the size of a third or fourth tier city in most other states. But they are just so darn content, Gallup says.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.