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High-level meeting on happiness

zenffzenff Veteran
edited April 2012 in Modern Buddhism

2 April 2012 –
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the need for an economic paradigm that incorporates social and environmental progress in efforts to achieve sustainable development.
“Gross National Product (GDP) has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured. Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.
Convened by the Government of Bhutan, the meeting – “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” – brought together hundreds of representatives from governments, religious organizations, academia and civil society to discuss the issue.
http://www.planetizen.com/node/55879
Commissioned by the UN General Assembly for today's United Nations Conference on Happiness, the report "reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness."
According to the findings of the report, "the happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands). Their average life evaluation score is 7.6 on a 0-to-10 scale.
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41685&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=
This was in the news today; partly because apparently we belong to the elite of happy peoples in the world.

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    If the U.N. can find the "science of happiness", can they also develop totally fat-free sugar and fat?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    FAR OUT! Good for Bhutan and UN Sec'y Gen'l Ban Kimoon.

    But...wait. The happiest countries in the world are Denmark, Norway, Finland? Aren't some of those also the countries with among the highest alcoholism and suicide rates? Is this an April Fool's joke? Those Nordic winters, you know--the incidence of SAD is very high there. hmm...
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited April 2012
    Yes, I’ve been wondering about the criteria.
    The Netherlands are liberal on drugs and prostitution; how many bonus points did we get for that?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I think the UN has confused "highest standard of living" with "happiness". The two don't necessarily equate at all.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    The report as PDF can be downloaded from
    http://earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2960

    It’s too big to put in a post. A small essential qoute:
    The top four countries (all in Northern Europe) in Figure 2.3 have life evaluations averaging 7.6, compared to 3.4 in the bottom four (all in sub-Saharan Africa). As described in more detail in Chapter 3.

    About 80% of these inter-country differences can be attributed to the same few variables measuring the material, social and institutional supports for a good life. All of these supports are stronger in the high-ranking countries. Comparing the top four to the bottom four countries, average incomes are 40 times higher, healthy life expectancy is 28 years greater, people are much more likely to have someone to call on in times of trouble (95% vs. 48%), to have a sense of freedom (94% vs. 63%), and are less likely to perceive widespread corruption in business and government (33% vs. 85%).
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    If they have so much support of various sorts, why do the residents of some of those countries have such a high rate of depression and alcoholism, and why isn't there a mechanism for figuring that into the happiness rating? It reminds me of Bhutan's own happiness rating. It measures everything, it seems, even how much time citizens spend meditating, except domestic violence, which is rampant in the country.
  • personperson Veteran
    edited April 2012
    How can those be the happiest countries you have to pay high taxes, its almost impossible to carry a concealed firearm and the majority of people don't believe in God. Everyone knows those are the big three in terms of what makes people happy. :buck:
  • Those countries by dakini are meant to have high suicide and alcohol rates due to the fact the latitude is so far north that during a lot of the months they have little sun. Well that is one therory anyway.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Yeah, I know. But it means they're not happy. It means all the social services in the world and the high standard of living make no difference to happiness. The implications are staggering.
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited April 2012
    Yeah, I know. But it means they're not happy. It means all the social services in the world and the high standard of living make no difference to happiness. The implications are staggering.
    The implications?
    I’ll give it a shot.

    You can’t measure happiness adequately by measuring “material, social and institutional supports for a good life”.
    Even in the best possible circumstances people can be utterly depressed. Maybe because it is dark half the year; maybe because people just get depressed easily and they’ll always find a reason to be unhappy.
    It reminds me of the simple list for therepeutic lifestyle changes.

    1.Be friendly
    2. Move
    3. Cherish spirituality
    4. Eat healthy
    5. Relax
    6. Spend time in nature
    7. Enjoy
    8. Nurture your relationships
    Happiness is not the result of economic and social variables but is something we have to work on; on an individual level.
    Do you agree?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Happiness is not the result of economic and social variables but is something we have to work on; on an individual level.
    Do you agree?
    This was my point. :) Happiness is up to the individual.
    Having the basics, though, like a roof over one's head, food, work, helps.

  • zenffzenff Veteran
    As a society you could do something about making people aware of it.
    Teach kids in school what happiness is and what it isn’t.

    I don’t know. It sounds to me like an idea that won’t work.
    :shake:
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2012
    This was in the news today; partly because apparently we belong to the elite of happy peoples in the world.
    Is that why such a high percentage of Americans take anti-depressants?
    2 April 2012 –
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the need for an economic paradigm that incorporates social and environmental progress in efforts to achieve sustainable development.
    I think this is a good idea to pursue. But a conference and study on happiness that rates some of the most suicidal countries as the happiest isn't the way to go about it. The UN spends money on odd things sometimes. Bhutan may have had a good idea, about factoring in environmental costs & benefits, etc. into measures of economic progress, but the whole thing sounds like it was ill-conceived and too superficial.

  • Only one source of happiness- yourself.
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