Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness

Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 11 , Segment 3

Episode: Seafood, Unopened Scrolls, Manipulation, Oscars, Proteins

  • Feb 23, 2015 10:00 pm
  • 14:27 mins

Guest: Dr. Ed Diener, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and University of Utah  The Pursuit of Happiness is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, but as a nation, we’re far more concerned with measures such as interest rates, unemployment, and economic output.  The tiny South Asian kingdom of Bhutan has taken a different approach—for forty years, it has been measuring Gross National Happiness instead of “Gross Domestic Product.” The results of that focus have been mixed, but a global discussion about the value of measuring “well-being” is underway. The UK is collecting national “life satisfaction” statistics for possible use in developing policies. Japan and Chile are considering the same thing. Even here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take periodic stock of people’s satisfaction with life in some health surveys.  The overarching question though, is whether or not happiness is something that can be measured reliably.  “Happiness is a bit of a tricky word so we labeled it subjective wellbeing. What we mean by it,” explains Diener “and what we measure are people’s feelings and appraisals, their judgment of how life’s going. How satisfied are you are as a whole? If you could live your life over, how much would you change? How close is your life to your ideal?”  “First of all, it reflects the overall quality of life in society. It gives a broad picture that goes beyond money,” says Diener on why happiness measurements matter.  “It’s not just telling you how society’s doing, but how it’s going to do better.”