TV talk star Oprah Winfrey hosts one of her shows each year on the topic of personal happiness. Oprah's happiness research expert, similar to the frequent medical expertise Oprah shares from Dr. Oz, or her psychology expertise from Dr. Phil, is the author Dan Buettner, author of the book "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way." Buettner's research theory is that personal happiness comes from finding places called "Blue Zones" in your life that make you satisfied and comfortable, not necessarily financially rich. One of these zones is the job where a person works. Buettner, during Oprah's January 2011 happiness show, cited a Gallup-Healthways Survey revealing that the four happiest jobs in America are Special Education Teacher; Travel Agent; Clergy Person and Firefighter, none of which pays an average salary of more than $50,000.
In a live audience survey during the show, Oprah found that 54% thought Special Education Teacher was the happiest job, while the second choice was Travel Agent at 27%. Only 12% of the audience members thought Firefighter was the happiest job and 7% thought Clergy was the happiest job. In a separate, but related, consumer survey by Gallup-Healthways in December 2010 relating to travel, Hawaii is found by 350,000 adults to be the happiest state in the U.S. based on having an unemployment rate not ranking among the nation's worst, as well as having positive factors of life evaluation, emotional and physical health, work environment, healthy behavior, and basic access to personal services. The bottom line, based on consumer survey results, is that when a travel agent books their client on a trip to Hawaii, it means the second-happiest worker in the U.S. is sending his or her client to the happiest place in the U.S.!