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Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

Posts Tagged ‘Gross National Happiness’

Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You’ll Never Guess Why.

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 24, 2013

Last month, Denmark was crowned the happiest country in the world.

“The top countries generally rank higher in all six of the key factors identified in the World Happiness Report,” wrote University of British Columbia economics professor John Helliwell, one of the report’s contributing authors. “Together, these six factors explain three quarters of differences in life evaluations across hundreds of countries and over the years.”

The six factors for a happy nation split evenly between concerns on a government- and on a human-scale. The happiest countries have in common a large GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy at birth and a lack of corruption in leadership. But also essential were three things over which individual citizens have a bit more control over: A sense of social support, freedom to make life choices and a culture of generosity.

“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” economist Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement at the time of the report’s release. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Happiness Day!

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 21, 2013

By Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University; Author, ‘The Price of Civilization’

international-happiness-dayLet me be the first to wish you a very Happy Happiness Day! In case you didn’t know it, today is the first International Day of Happiness, launched by all 193 UN member states. Happiness Day doesn’t mean we’ve arrived at happiness, but it does mean that we’ve recognized that happiness is our goal — and that our societies need to work harder to promote the things that really matter in the 21st century.

The fourth king of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan led the way 40 years ago, drawing on ancient Buddhist wisdom. Bhutan should pursue Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than Gross National Product (GNP) like the rest of the world. Since then, Bhutan has been experimenting with a new holistic approach to development that emphasizes not just economic growth but also culture, mental health, compassion, and community. Bhutan is searching for a balanced society.

It’s a worthy search. Bhutan aims to avoid the Easterlin Paradox that grips the US. Professor Richard Easterlin discovered many years ago that America was becoming much richer per person but not happier, at least not according to the direct reports of wellbeing by Americans responding to surveys. This is sobering, indeed. We are threatening the planet with pollution, climate change, and other environmental degradation to chase more and more goods that don’t seem to do so much to really make us any happier.

My colleagues Richard Layard, John Helliwell and I reported on the evidence on happiness in last year’s first World Happiness Report, prepared for a UN meeting on happiness promoted by Bhutan. (We’ll have the Second World Happiness Report out this fall.) We used worldwide survey data to look at the factors that truly make people happy. Income of course matters, but mainly to the poor. When people are hungry, deprived of basic needs such as clean water, health care, and education, and without meaningful employment, they indeed suffer. Economic development that alleviates poverty is a vital step in boosting happiness. Read the rest of this entry »

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