Colin Ferguson | SciFi, Toronto and other rants on

Gross National Happiness

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

A decade or so ago Bhutan said they’d start tracking GNH…that’s Gross National Happiness for those on the outside of that lingo.  Well at the time it sounded like a snow job to me. I mean that the government realised it can’t boost material wealth so why not focus on something where they can more easily fudge the numbers?

I’ve grown a bit since then, and not just in girth.  I realise that salaries in London, UK are twice what they are in most parts of Canada.  That doesn’t make them twice as happy.   In fact more likely to be less happy as their uber-salaries get them much smaller places so they can’t recover from the city stressRead the study there or you can just trust me on this one…

Anyway, my personal growth has me realise that when implemented well GNH would be a very positive thing that governments can do — in good times and bad.   Including some level of prority for what actually makes folks happy into decision making could really shift how goverrnments provide services.  It’d have to be some fiendishly complex analysis as humans wants, desires and joys change depending on where and what they have, but it’s just clever.   During WWII, for example, most folks were not happy. No shock there.   What is shocking is that once Europeans had some security, then had enough food to eat, plus some basic shelter then they were no longer unhappy due to physical wants.  At that point happiness was found to be all about socio-economic rankings relative to your neighbours.  We’re such relics of our evolution.

Anyway, this knowledge is common place amongst eggheads, and so maybe it’s time has come.  After it’s something that countries with low growth prospects and downsizing governments may be able to use to their advantage.  Know of any of those?  *ahem* oohhhh Hi UK.

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