Happiness: Has the Gallup Organization been Hanging Out in Bhutan?

27 Aug

As you know the government of Bhutan has adopted Gross National Happiness as the appropriate measure of national well-being (rather than, say, oh, gross national product, GNP):

Like many psychological and social indicators, GNH is somewhat easier to state than to define with mathematical precision. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan’s five-year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country. Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review based on a GNH impact statement that is similar in nature to the Environmental Impact Statement required for development in the U.S.

The Bhutanese grounding in Buddhist ideals suggests that beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.

That’s Bhutan, but I don’t live there and chances are you don’t either. But yesterday, just as I was coming out of my afternoon nap (one of the keys to my personal happiness, BTW) I got a phone call from a young lady who identified herself as being with the Gallup polling organization. She asked me if I’d be willing to answer a few questions and I agreed.

She may have mentioned the name of the survey, but I forget it. What I do remember is that the questions had to do with my life satisfaction. One of them, for example, was whether or not I’d experience a lot of happiness on the previous day. Yes, thank you very much. Had I laughed a lot? Yes. Had I experience stress? No. Did my job make full use of my best abilities? Hmmm, that’s tricky given the trickiness of my life situation, but I said yes, sorta (but the sorta doesn’t register).

I thought it was a rather unusual survey, but interesting. And this morning I remembered little Bhutan nestled away in the foothills of the Himalayas and decided to see if I could find out anything about that Gallup poll. Sure enough, I discovered the Well-Being News: Health Data, Well-Being Index, Workplace Wellness, Behavioral Economics and Gallup Daily: U.S. Mood.

So, how-come presidential politics isn’t conducted around well-being?


One Response to “Happiness: Has the Gallup Organization been Hanging Out in Bhutan?”

  1. Charlie Keil August 27, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Our wonderful book Polka Happiness was planned to make many thousands of people happy, but, unlike Urban Blues, it didn’t sell a lot or steadily, so it went out of print.
    Yes magazine and Ode and quite a few other pubs are trying to put on the happy face in the midst of expanding drone surveillance, drone murders, drone mayhem, collateral damages, etc. etc. etc. so polling is certainly needed to see who is happy about what and why. My strong feeling is that high and increasing GNH is only possible in small and non-warring nations like Bhutan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Lapland, Barbados, Samoa, San Marino. Could be possible to have rising GNH in the Vermont 2nd Republic, in northern California separated from the south, in Quebec or Nova Scotia.
    Conversely the bigger the empire the stronger the pull toward fascism, endless wars, and pervasive misery for the 100%. Can you imagine how miserable each Koch brother must be? Warren Buffet is so miserable with his billions that he WANTS to pay taxes for wars of aggression abroad. Put his name on a drone before it slams into a Pakistani wedding party.
    Does Gallup ever poll the 1% and report their happiness levels to the 99%?

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