When I was at the UN, they talked about a theory that has been around for a while. While most countries deal in the "Gross National Product" theory as a gauge as to how they are doing as a country, there is another factor that is now moving into valid consideration: Gross National Happiness. And I quote from the National Bureau of Economic Research:
The Happiness of Nations
"As economies get richer, they can afford to question the need for further riches. In a country where people are starving, economic growth remains regarded as a vital objective to overcome hunger and other poverty problems."
Traditionally, economists and others measure a nation's progress and prosperity by looking at Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that is, the total output of good and services a country produces for its own inhabitants or for sale to other nations. There is a growing tendency, however, for economists to consider another measure, Gross National Happiness.
"For the wealthy countries of the world, though not the developing countries, our instinct is that it would be a mistake in the twenty-first century to focus excessively on ways to raise the level or growth rate of GDP," write David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald in Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia (NBER Working Paper No.11416). "The industrialized countries should … use a broader conception of well-being than the height of a pile of dollars." As economies get richer, they can afford to question the need for further riches. In a country where people are starving, economic growth remains regarded as a vital objective to overcome hunger and other poverty problems.
One of the best-known attempts to move away from a simple reliance on GDP as a measure of welfare is the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations. Published every year, the HDI is a score that amalgamates three indicators: lifespan, educational attainment, and adjusted real income.
I have been thinking about this concept since I heard about it discussed in New York and actually been noticing there is a lot of talk about folks living more "happy." Happiness projects they are called. Isn't a project designed to be temporary? I don't like that part of the idea. Projects are conscious though and that idea I like.
I am wired to be pretty happy. I have never suffered from depression. I remember once when I was the PTA president, a cowardly anonymous woman wrote me a mean email. It impacted me so that I didn't want to go up to do my work at the school, but that feeling only lasted a few days. Sure, there are folks that I do not enjoy being around, or find that they can say or be unfriendly to me, but all in all, I am happy.
I am impacted by daily events (like the rude man in the thrift store the other day) but I complain about it and I am good to go. "Movin' on" as the Hot Rod Rock Star of the North has always said. I am not that good at movin' on until I vent to a buddy or two. I am a venter, no doubt.
And I have always known them. I know what makes me happy.
My boy, when he is well, is wired like me. I like that. That makes me happy. As a side note, he is getting better and better. That makes me really happy.
I think that is why I do volunteer work. I feel like it brings purpose to my life, and oft times, you get to see the fruits of your labor in front of you. Happy.
Bob the Builder sent this to me and it made me smile. I don't care about Coke. I was just asked yesterday the last time I had a can of soda. It was 12 years ago. A sip every year or so, and I good to go. Too carbonatey--that doens't make my GI track happy. And I know it. Why do something unnecessary that doesn't make me happy?
Enjoy this. And have a happy day. (side note: Notice how the students got happier as they got more stuff to give away...)