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The Happiest Countries According to the 2015 World Happiness Report

Switzerland's citizens are the happiest. And the United States clocks in at No. 15, just below Mexico and just above Brazil.

Yesterday, the 2015 World Happiness Report was published. This is the third such report done since 2012 that attempts to chart people's satisfaction with their lives in over 150 countries across the globe. Gallup polls of 1,000 people per country each year between 2012 and 2014 (so, ideally 3,000 people in total per country, but some countries missed a year) asked people to rate their lives on a scale from 1-10, which is then averaged nationally.

Each national "happiness bar" is made up of six factors. There's also a "Dystopia" variable that represents an imaginary country with the world’s least-happy people, so there's a base benchmark against which to measure the real countries. The other six factors—real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity—are things that can be tentatively measured and multiplied by an estimated coefficient for how much that factor would influence a given person's happiness.

The table showing these coefficients is difficult to make sense of without reading the rest of the report, but here's what it looks like:

The report, which you can read in full here [PDF], is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, and national statistics. In addition to ranking the countries, the report also describes how the measurement of something as subjective as happiness can and should be used as a way of assessing national progress. The goal is not just to inform but also to inspire reform.

"As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens," the report's editor, Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, told Science Daily. "We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first. Countries with strong social and institutional capital not only support greater well-being, but are more resilient to social and economic crises."

Above you can see the happiness rating for the first 53 countries. To see all 158, click through to the PDF above.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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Design
A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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