America’s Happiest Woman Is a 50-Year-Old Californian

She works a flexible job, maintains a strong marriage, and keeps in shape to boot. We're jealous.

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Henrik Sorensen / Getty / Stone

Lou Gehrig once considered himself the luckiest man on Earth. Now, USA Today found the happiest woman in America.

It isn’t surprising that the Baby Boom produced the largest demographic in America, women ages 45-55. As that generation glides into its golden years, USA Today teamed up with Healthways, a well-being improvement firm, to determine what contributes to high well-being in that age group and discovered one woman who embodies those characteristics.

USA Today identified Mary Claire Orenic, a 50-year-old resident of Manhattan Beach, California, as the happiest woman in America for fulfilling the criteria for well-being, which include a well-paying full-time job and a solid marriage.

(SPECIAL: A Full Guide to Health and Happiness)

If even those sound like a tough balance (and luck), it is surely harder in practice. But Orenic, a self-described “former underachiever,” enjoys her lifestyle’s payoffs.

Orenic works a 45- to 60-hour week for Siemens Healthcare, which allows her to telecommute from home at least twice a week. She and her husband Chris also co-run an advanced eye care center.

Her marriage is another key to her well-being. She and Chris made the decision to have one child after Chris finished his medical residency. Mary Claire continued working while Chris stayed home part-time during the baby’s first year.

Orenic owes her good health to walks several mornings with a friend, an elliptical machine she uses while doing laundry and shooting basketball hoops with her husband. All this activity keeps her 5’6″ body at 115 pounds.

Her friends are equally busy, but she says can count on 10 who would respond if she needed help.

Aside from everything, Orenic attributes a majority of her well-being to her child. “I’ll miss my son when he leaves, but he’s turned out pretty darn well,” she said. That accounts for a lot of my optimism about the next five years.”

Read Orenic’s full profile and the other factors for achieving a positive well-being at USA Today.

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