I was lucky to study under John Luke Gallup, one of Jeffrey Sachs’ co-authors, for one of my Development Economic courses a couple years ago. My research project was on the small Himalayan country of Bhutan and how they have incorporated their Buddhist principles in their economic development.
The current king of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, coined the term “Gross National Happiness” when he started to open the tiny nation up to modernity and economic growth. We measure Gross Domestic Product, how to stack two countries against either other, say the economic growth of China versus the U.S. Gross National Happiness goes beyond that, and looks at society as a whole and asks, “Are we happier as a people?”
Granted, it’s not precise. And quite a few mainstream economists scoff at the idea of measured happiness (although, what, exactly is “utility” suppose to measure, then?). However, it has spawned the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/).
Anyway, the article is a good read, and has some good questions for consumers to ask themselves. The main question, are we really happy?
The mad pursuit of corporate profits is threatening us all. To be sure, we should support economic growth and development, but only in a broader context: one that promotes environmental sustainability and the values of compassion and honesty that are required for social trust. The search for happiness should not be confined to the beautiful mountain kingdom of Bhutan.