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In our own eyes

Quality of life has long been one of the Rochester region’s selling points. During the wrenching economic changes of the last 25 years, this factor often has been cited as a key reason why many residents have stayed here.

But does Rochester really stack up favorably with other metro areas in terms of quality-of-life measurements? New findings that span the 100 most populous communities nationwide make you wonder.

In the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Rochester ranks 72nd overall. The researchers concede that well-being is difficult to measure scientifically. However, they think their analysis of “the five essential elements of well-being” reveals important qualitative differences:

  •  Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  •  Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  •  Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  •  Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  •  Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Only in financial well-being does Rochester rank in the top half, placing 32nd. Our lowest score—88th—is in purpose; the rest are community, 64th; social, 71st; and physical, 76th.

The Gallup-Healthways index is only one benchmark, of course, and others like Places Rated Almanac have given our region much higher scores. But the index is based on more than 176,000 interviews, so perhaps we should not be quick to dismiss it.

What the findings suggest is that many area residents are unaware of—or devalue—all the things this region has to offer. (They might feel differently if they looked closely at the Explore Greater Rochester guide that’s a supplement to this week’s edition.)

So, perhaps there’s a sixth essential element to well-being: looking at the place you call home with fresh eyes.

4/17/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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