Should society Prioritize Measuring Happiness?

We have all heard the expression that money cant bring you happiness. In this post Snowden world where we are constantly survailled, would you be ok with your government measuring your happiness? According to the Huffingtonpost “new surveys crafted to measure happiness are a much better indicator of how people are succeeding” While I agree it is important to make a shift from a “consumer society to a happiness society”, surely these are conclusions we can arrive on our own?

Should happiness be a goal of public policy? Carol Graham is an economist at the Brookings Institute an an author of The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being which examines  what we know about the determinants of happiness, across and within countries at different stages of development. Carol also tackles what we can do with that new knowledge and clearly presents both the promise and the potential pitfalls of injecting the “economics of happiness” into public policymaking. In the video below, she does make one point which is a home truth: “After a certain point, more money won’t make you smile more in a day” Amen to that.

We live in a world of wars, poverty and extreme corruption. The South African interpreter at Mandela’s funeral provides some amusement on the surface, but underscores something darker and deeper. Happiness can see quite irrelevant in the face of all this. You have to ask yourself the question does happiness matter if you can’t pay your bills or meet the payments on your mortgage?

In today’s world many people are consumed by surviving and taking care of the bare essentials. To many happiness unfortunately is a bonus. People who are content with their lot might get along a lot better. Throughout life’s many trials and tribulations people will try to find happiness, it is instinctive, it is also come to the attention of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network who published a report titled the world happiness report in an attempt to measure happiness in 150 countries around the world. Is this a good pursuit of their time? And what about the business world. Do businesses care about happiness or about the individual ultimately? Certainly a happy customer is vital to business interests as it is also quite logical to assume that if your staff is happy they will also be well motivated and more creative.

If governments are to play a greater role in increasing and spreading happiness the idea seems at odds because aren’t all politicians selfish ultimately? Don’t they pursue their own agendas once elected, Are these not the same people will have a stake in your happiness? I expect organisations like John Lewis will always put their employee’s first after all it is fundamental to their business model, other companies are no doubt taking it very seriously. I like this definition of happiness:

  • Happiness is a permanent condition of the soul.
  • We create unhappiness by deviating from the soul’s immortal condition.
  • Lasting happiness is achieved by a spiritual journey that heals self-division.
  • The undivided self is the true self and therefore the most natural identity for every individual.
Do you think governments and businesses do enough to promote happiness? Share your thoughts and let me know.
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Featured Image credit via reloveplanet