Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

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

Posts Tagged ‘The Earth Institute’

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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The Happiest Countries Are in Northern Europe

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 31, 2012

By John Halliwell, Richard Layard and Jefferey Sachs

Is it possible to measure the happiness of the world’s population? Remarkably it is, and the first World Happiness Report published today does just that.

Even more remarkable is next Monday’s United Nations conference on happiness, for which the report was prepared. Last July the UN General Assembly invited all member governments to give more importance to happiness as a goal of public policy and mandated this conference as part of the process.

This means that there is now high world-level support for the demand that governments pay more attention to the happiness of their peoples when they form their policies. This is not, we emphasize, a matter of following the whims, fads, and consumer urges of the population. These do not, according to the evidence, lead to happiness. It is, rather, a matter of helping societies to find a path to what really matters more deeply and lastingly for well-being.

So what does matter in determining the happiness or life satisfaction in a nation? Income of course matters to everyone, especially the poorest. As the report shows, the richest countries are a lot happier than the poorest. The four happiest are all in Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands) and the four least happy are in Sub-Saharan Africa. On a 0-10 scale, the average life evaluation score is 7.6 in the first four countries and only 3.4 in the last four. Read the rest of this entry »

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