Wellbeing as the central goal of economic development

June’s edition of Positive News – the world’s first positive newspaper, an oasis of good news to counteract headlines dominated by sensationalism – is out. It was very interesting to read about the United Nations calls for happiness-based economy, following a high-level UN meeting, the first of its kind, that took place in New York on 2 April 2012 and brought together more than 600 participants.

The event was organised after a UN resolution on happiness – which was co-sponsored by 68 countries — was adopted by consensus in July 2011. The ‘happiness resolution’ stated that gross domestic product (GDP) alone is not an adequate measure of human prosperity and that “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty, and enhance wellbeing.”

Another peace of good is the First World Happiness Report, commissioned for the UN conference. It shows how a new ‘science of happiness’ is able to measure people’s wellbeing. It is very good to hear that we are at last moving beyond materialism on a official level. It is like the big shift coming!


The inspiration behind this change of mentality is the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) adopted by the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan – a small country, a big example. In 2008, the country started to measure GNH by looking at factors such as living standards, health, education, culture, good governance, and psychological wellbeing. Happiness, according to their standards, is not as relating to an everyday passing mood, but as “the deep, abiding happiness” that comes from living in harmony with the natural world and with others – that is, from “feeling totally connected with our world”.

The trailer below, from the Bhutan a Kingdom of Happiness movie, shows how Bhutan is placing environmental concerns and spiritual wellbeing over rampant capitalism.


May their example be followed by all nations, but may we all realise that we don’t need to wait for “official change” to start looking after our own “gross personal happiness”. Get started by assessing your own well being to realise where you are now, and which changes need to be made to your life style, and if you like, share your answers to the following questions in the comment box:

  • Taking all things together, how happy would you say you are? (where 0 means extremely unhappy, and 10 means extremely happy)
  • All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays? (where 0 means extremely dissatisfied and 10 means extremely satisfied.)

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