Learning happiness

Learning happiness

Quick! Ask yourself: Why do you want to make lots money?

Your most-likely answer: to be happy, damn it!

But does more money really lead to more happiness? Not according to Daniel Kahneman, a psychology professor at the University of Princeton.

‘standard of living has increased dramatically and happiness has increased not at all, and in some cases has diminished slightly,” he says.

Interestingly, Bhutan, a remote Himalayan kingdom, has consistently remained one of the world’s happiest countries – even though it is not close to being one of the richest.

Their secret?

Their government creates policies based on Gross National Happiness.

This includes:

1. Banning advertising. The science of happiness shows advertising is a major cause of unhappiness because it creates envy by making people feel less “well-off.”

2. Pushing for more exercise and healthier eating. In fact, the Bhutan government actually discourages junk food, along with cigarettes and alcohol. They recognize that the healthier the body, the happier the mind!

The idea that politics should be about providing happiness to the greatest number of people isn’t new. Jeremy Bentham, an 18th century philosopher, tried to get politicians to create policies to increase citizens’ general happiness levels.

Recently, Bentham’s ideas have been dusted off and revisited in Britain, where the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit held a life satisfaction seminar and considered the following concepts:

1. creating a happiness index

2. teaching people about happiness

3. encouraging more support for volunteering

4. creating a “more leisured work-life balance”

5. creating higher taxes for the rich – so there’d be less of a division between the very rich and very poor — thereby reducing envy and its depressive affects.

Read more on happiness – click here.