I’m reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (twitter). It’s essentially a travelogue mashed up with an introductory guide on positive psychology. I’m about three-quarters of the way through and I would already recommend the book as both highly enjoyable and informative.
One of the chapters of the book is about the Kingdom of Bhutan in southeast asia where His Majesty the Fifth King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck has made Gross National Happiness (GNH) one of the ways that it measures its success as a nation.
Using Gross National Happiness as a measure of national success is in complete alignment with the Happiness Idea.
To support, share and explain the measurement of GNH for Bhutan, the Centre of Bhutan studies has created a web site.
Across the world, indicators focus largely on market transactions, covering trade, monetary exchange rates, stockmarket, growth, etc. These dominant, conventional indicators, generally related to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reflect quantity of physical output of a society. GDP, along with a host of supporting indicators, is the most widely used indicator. Yet GDP is heavily biased towards increased production and consumption, regardless of the necessity or desirability of such outputs, at the expense of other more holistic criterion. It is biased against conservation since it does not register conservation or stocks.
Indicators determine policies. The almost universal use of GDP-based indicators to measure progress has helped justify policies around the world that are based on rapid material progress at the expense of environmental preservation, cultures, and community cohesion.
You might remember that recently Sarkozy proposed that France adopt a similar approach, but Insee, the agency charged with exploring the creation of a measure found it too hard to pin down.