Make it rain…smiles? Gross National Happiness ~ Refocusing what is important

Yesterday I discovered two amazing new things:

1) Stardust Video & Coffee  in Orlando: It is like my two favorite Cs, cinema and coffee things got together and had the most awesome baby on the planet. The walls were adorned with art, dvds, and books; the menu was creative and delicious, and the coffee fantastic.

2) NERD NITE – A TEDesque evening where like minded carbon based lifeforms get together and listen to interesting lectures about all things nerdy. Last night there were 3 fantastic speakers, the last of which spoke about the inevitable future of robot intimacy (hello, the whole plane has a crush on Number Six) However, that is a discussion for another day.

The talk that really sparked my interest was about “Gross National Happiness”


The “GNH” was designed to be an indicator of quality of life of a country in a more holistic means than just the economic indicator of the gross domestic product (GDP).  The term ‘gross national happiness’ was coined by Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King Jigme Wangchuck (so many awesome things about that man’s name and title…but I digress). This indicator uses the following seven development areas to measure the success of a nation:

  1. Economic Wellness: statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
  2. Environmental Wellness: statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
  3. Physical Wellness: measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
  4. Mental Wellness: measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
  5. Workplace Wellness: measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
  6. Social Wellness:measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
  7. Political Wellness: measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.

The speaker, Christopher Stampar showed an interesting graph during the presentation:

Those peaks in the black lines indicate a spike in our country’s GDP during war time…

The metric by which we measure success in our country thrives during times of war, now is it just me…or does that seem a little off? You know how scientists always make a big deal about using the correct tool in order to get the proper measurement? For instance, you wouldn’t use a yard stick to measure the distance to the moon or a microscope to detect a broken bone. Perhaps, we need to start considering something other than, or at least in addition to the almighty dollar when considering the wellbeing of a nation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we are anywhere near trading smiles for groceries but I think we might want to consider something other than the amount of money our country is spending when assessing our nation’s social welfare.



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