Alaska was the No. 1 state for well-being in 2014, according to a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report. It’s the first time Alaskans have claimed the top spot since the report first started tracking in 2008.

Gallup and Healthways conducted 176,000 interviews across all 50 states, ultimately scoring each based on five essential elements: purpose (you like what you do each day), social (supportive relationships), financial (increased security), community (liking where you live), and physical (good health and energy). The score is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing the lower possible well-being and 100 the best.

The Last Frontier state is joined by Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana in the top five, while West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Mississippi round out the bottom five. North Dakota, interestingly, dropped from the No. 1 spot in 2013 to No. 23 in 2014. Researchers attributed this to state residents' overall life evaluation and worsening health habits, including increased smoking and reduced exercise.

Survey participants were also each individually measured for well-being; they were considered to be thriving, struggling, or suffering. And overall, 54 percent of those surveyed were classified as thriving. This is the highest it’s been in the report’s seven-year history, Dan Witters, research director of the index, told The Huffington Post.

When looking at previous reports, the Northern Plains and Mountain West scored higher for well-being than the south and industrial Midwest. So one could say the happiest states are essentially where nothing happens: fewer stimuli equal fewer bouts of stress, right?

Not quite. Witters told Medical Daily in an email the lower-ranked, seemingly more happening locales are bogged down by "high obesity rates, significant chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, high smoking rates, and poor eating and exercise habits — all things that most high well-being states are much less encumbered with," he said.

In order for a happening place, like Nevada or Tennessee, to crack the top spot, let alone the top 10, Witter thinks these states — and others lower in the index — can shake their sustained rankings by working to execute significant changes in the choices and habits their residents have formed over many years. Short of picking up your things and moving to a happier state, this means transcending your location and honing in on unhealthy choices and habits to improve well-being.

For example, the index highlighted Blue Zones Project initiatives in states, like California and Minnesota, which “involved multifaceted programs and community actions aimed at improving many aspects of well-being.” Think of working with schools and restaurants to foster healthier choices. Some states also work to increase access to farmer’s markets and social activities.

Outside of the index's essential elements, science has shown well-being increases when individuals spend more time in nature, listen to music, and give out free hugs. Seriously.