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derson, author of Ethical Markets, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, recommends that economic policies aim to boost societal welfare, rather than GDP. All agree that a new indicator of well-being, such as the U.S. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), could be used to more accurately measure economic progress.


The Science of Happiness A respected “science of happiness,” pioneered by University of Illinois positive psychologist Edward Diener, Ph.D., dubbed Dr. Happiness, and other researchers, has existed for more than a decade. The study of what makes people happy and life fulfilling repeatedly demonstrates that the economic route to happiness does not consist of endlessly widening the superhighway of accumu- lation. Rather, it resides in a host of per- sonal values that are closer to our hearts, as illustrated by the Himalayan nation of Bhutan (population: about 700,000). For many years, Bhutan has mea-


sured its general well-being—as the people themselves subjectively report it—using a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. Its government bases policy decisions on how they might


effect the kind of happiness associated with contentment, family, community, spirituality, education, compatibility with nature and good physical health. After years of primary research, the Bhutanese have identified nine domains for assessing happiness: psychological well-being, physical health, time use (work-life balance), community vital- ity and social connection, education, cultural preservation and diversity, environmental sustainability, good gov- ernance and material well-being. In 2004, the first annual Internation- al Conference on Gross National Hap- piness was held in Bhutan. Hundreds of government representatives, scholars and other thought leaders from more than 40 nations gathered to explore the possibil- ity of making GNH the true indicator of a country’s health and quality of life. As of 2011, a non-binding resolution by the United Nations General Assembly urges that countries now measure their health and happiness, as well as wealth. Sixty- six countries backed it.


Measuring Americans’


Life Satisfaction Seattle, Washington, the first U.S.


www.unitycommunitychurch.com


We’ve had enough of the official mantra: Work more, enjoy less, pollute more, eat toxic foods and suffer illnesses, all for the sake of increasing the gross domestic product. Why not learn ways to work less and enjoy it more; spend more time with our friends and families; consume, pollute, destroy and owe less; and live better, longer and more meaningfully?


natural awakenings November 2011 17


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