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Flossing, dieting finally pays off

These are troubled economic times, but there are good times ahead for Minnesota, at least if a recent Gallup poll study is to be believed.

The study looked at 13 categories to determine the best places to live in 2032. Minnesota came in second best in the nation, behind Utah, which soundly beat everybody else. (Don't feel bad -- it's tough to beat those Mormons and their clean-livin' ways.)

Utah sets the national standard for smoking, for workers being treated as partners by their supervisors, and for ease of finding clean, safe water.

Meanwhile, North Dakota maintains strong economic indicators and Hawaii tops all the states in standard of living, according to the Gallup findings.

Elsewhere, residents of Mississippi anticipate the best life in five years (dream on, you fools) and Minnesotans find it easiest to locate a safe place to exercise (let's hear it for the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center!)

Colorado leads all states with the lowest obesity, and residents of Connecticut are the most likely to have visited a dentist in the last 12 months. South Dakotans are more likely to see their cities/areas getting better than residents of any other state.

As you can see, the good people of Gallup looked at an eclectic array of metrics to come up with their rankings.

A "job creation index" put North Dakota at the top (big surprise) and New Jersey at the bottom (say it ain't so, Chris Christie).

A thing called the "economic confidence index" has Minnesota at the top and West Virginia at the bottom. (If this is feeling confident, how low must the rest of the country be feeling?)

Mississippi came in dead last in metrics that include "visited a dentist in the last 12 months," "employed full time" and "supervisor treats you like a partner, not a boss."

(Minnesota ranked No. 12 on that last one. Now quit reading the paper and get back to work, dammit.)

No wonder Mississippi is No. 1 in thinking things will be better in five years -- it can't get any worse there.

But the point is not to beat up on poor Mississippi, which has been scoring badly on national rankings for years, but to celebrate Minnesota, which must be doing something right, because it scored No. 10 on the "job creation index," No. 8 on the "employed full time for an employer" metric and No. 1 in "easy to find a safe place to exercise."

We also ranked No. 2 in "easy to find clean, safe water."

Heck, we even ranked No. 6 in "learned something new yesterday."

Fortunately, most of us manage to get to the dentist at least once a year (we ranked No. 5), don't smoke (No. 7) and keep ourselves somewhat cylindrical (No. 12 on the "low obesity" scale). Once again, thank you, Mississippi, which tipped the scales at No. 49, for making the rest of us look good.

Minnesota benefits from its optimism. People here expect things to get better locally and across the state, and those high expectations are reflected in the rankings.

Minnesota ranked among the top five states in wellbeing. Minnesota also ranked high in economic confidence and residents were upbeat about the future of the state. Unemployment here is also expected to be lower than most places.

So cheer up. Things aren't so bad. But if you have an 800-pound, toothless, unemployed cousin in New Jersey, or Mississippi, don't let him move in -- we don't want to screw up the rankings for next year.