Thanks to Tom Murphy at A View from the Cave for pointing me to this excellent blog post at Integrating Development examining the idea of incorporating ‘happiness’ into international aid and development measures. Says Jen, the ‘semi-anonymous’ author and development expert based in Southeast Asia:
Those who hear of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) generally find it quaint. At best, the concept of happiness as a national goal seems whimsical, especially in an achingly beautiful, fairytale-like kingdom in the middle of nowhere (case in point: the header photo). But supporters of GNH are serious. Conceived as a backlash to the world’s obsession with GDP as a measure of a country’s worth, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck determined back in 1972 that happiness should be more important than income. After all, the King proclaimed, while the Bhutanese are poor, they are also very, very happy.
So read the entire thing, at the first link above. The author notes there are good reasons why happiness is being taking seriously — and also, not surprisingly, some serious questions about how best to measure it.
The very fact that serious-minded development experts, economists and political leaders are taking happiness seriously should make us all a bit happier.