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Why Happiness matters more than economic growth

15 Mar 2018 | Florence Scialom (Network of Wellbeing) & Emma Seery (Happy City)

Happy Beyond Gdp

Every year in March, the world celebrates International Day of Happiness.

It is a moment to celebrate those things that bring us joy, and to reflect on how we can invest in a happy and fulfilling life.

At a personal level, the day reminds us to do those simple things that make us most happy: smile, share, be grateful, spend time in nature and with friends and family. And at the collective level, we are reminded to reflect on larger questions around what really makes for a happier society and how we can move towards this.

Now And Happy City

This year, Happy City and the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) are inviting you to reflect on the links between your personal happiness and how we measure societal progress, by:

The best things in life aren't things

"The best things in life aren't things" and on reflection we can see that those things which make our lives happy are often beyond a price tag or financial value.

We are big advocates of personal happiness and wellbeing and we also think it is important to reflect on some of the bigger forces at work in our society and our economy that determine the conditions needed for everyone to truly thrive.

This year, International Day of Happiness falls just after the 50 year anniversary of Robert Kennedy's speech at the University of Kansas, where he called out the inadequacy of GDP as a measure of true prosperity.

And despite these progressive ideas, articulated at the highest level by a prospective Presidential candidate, half a century later we haven't quite found an alternative.

The Best Things In Life Aren 't Things (small Square)  Af H - Shift From Economic Growth To Growth In Wellbeing (small)

Let's focus on what makes life worthwhile

Gross domestic product (GDP) is still a guiding principle for many decisions that determine the reality in our local areas across the world. It's still given the top billing as a measure of prosperity. But it misses so much.

Kennedy didn't mince his words when he explained this, saying that GDP:

"...does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile"

Now Banner 1 (small)  Now Banner 2 (small)

What makes you #HappyBeyondGDP?

So this year, we're inviting you to tap into your own poetry - and hopefully your great photography skills - and join our photo competition.

We are looking for great photos showing what the current economic model is missing. What makes you #HappyBeyondGDP?

You can submit your entry to the photo competition here. Or submit it directly on Twitter or Instagram - just post your entries with a short story using the hashtag #HappyBeyondGDP  and with @happycityUK and @NetwrkWellbeing tagged.

One lucky winner will receive a £50 voucher to invest in more beautiful photography.

Join a free webinar!

If photography isn't your thing, you can also join the next free Network of Wellbeing webinar, with Happy City's Liz Zeidler, to discuss the problems with the current economic model of measuring progress only in terms of GDP, and the potential solutions.

Register for free here.


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