A Happiness based economy – a new economic model?

For a while now I’ve been interested (and frustrated) by the positive impact that brands could, or should have in our daily lives. Rather than just selling us things we don’t want or need, do many brands have a positive impact for communities? How could brands be measured to force this shift – does a meaningful brand index actually help? I went to a Good for Nothing meet up the other week and there was debate about this as I asked the question near the end  – surely it would help shift the balance to intrinsic good, rather than extrinsic and striving for materialistic things?

Positive News have written about a recent UN event in April this year, which marks a significant step towards governments placing wellbeing at the heart of economic progress. I can barely contain myself reading it but will we ever live in this Utopia? The world is struggling with financial chaos and it has probably crossed most people’s minds that perhaps we should be leading our lives in a very different way.

This UN event has happened after a ‘happiness resolution’ in July 2011, which stated that gross domestic product (GDP) alone is not an adequate measure of human prosperity. A ‘more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty, and enhance wellbeing.’

Positive news also detailed that the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan actually introduced the concept of gross national happiness (GNH) back in the 1970s. GNH has been measured from 2008 ‘looking at factors such as living standards, health, education, culture, good governance, and psychological wellbeing.’

A report commissioned for this UN conference shows how a new ‘science of happiness’ is able to measure people’s wellbeing. According to the first ever World Happiness Report which you can read here, the happiest countries are all Northern European countries: Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands – they scored an average of 7.6 / 10 for life satisfaction. The UK was placed 18th behind the US and Ireland and the biggest single factor affecting happiness in any country is mental health. You can see the top 20 here.

Will a happiness based economy ever become the new economic model, I hope so.