Let’s be honest — we’re living through a global pandemic, climate change, ongoing inflation, and increased political tension across the United States. If you’re having a regularly scheduled existential crisis like me, it can be hard to crack a smile. But studies have shown that smiling is good for us — it helps reduce the body’s response to stress and can lower heart rate and blood pressure. And more good news — smiling is contagious, so if you’re looking for a little pick-me-up, being around smiling faces can be good for you. HouseFresh, a company dedicated to fresh air in homes, conducted a study to find the happiest and smiliest states in the US using Instagram and facial recognition software.

The study found that the facial recognition software was able to distinguish between forced smiles like Hide Your Pain Harold. It found that Utah is the smiliest and happiest state in the US, with a 70.7 percent average of faces shining bright on Instagram. But the overall town with the most cheesy grins is Concord, California, with almost 75 percent of its residents showing off those pearly whites. However, California as a whole is the least smiliest in the entire US, with an average of only 32.41 percent of analyzed faces showing up smiley.

The top 10 smiliest states in the US

  1. Utah: 70.78 percent
  2. Wisconsin: 68.46 percent
  3. Nebraska: 68.12 percent
  4. Vermont: 67.74 percent
  5. Iowa: 67.67 percent
  6. Wyoming: 67.65 percent
  7. Colorado: 66.20 percent
  8. North Dakota: 65.63 percent
  9. Washington: 64.10 percent
  10. Idaho: 63.37 percent

To find the smiliest cities and states in the US, analysts at HouseFresh used Microsoft Azure’s facial recognition software that places numerical estimates on emotions on people’s faces based on characteristics and facial expressions. HouseFresh analyzed photos from Instagram from the 100 largest populated cities in the US. The software had to reward smiling faces with a score of at least .75 out of one to count. Then it averaged out the Face API happiness scores.