Ming the Mechanic:
Gross National Happiness

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Gross National Happiness2005-10-06 23:12
by Flemming Funch

NY Times talks about how the king of the little country Bhutan in the Himalayas had decided to make Gross National Happiness a priority, instead of just boring stuff like Gross National Product.
Bhutan, the king said, needed to ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. The king, now 49, has been instituting policies aimed at accomplishing these goals.

Now Bhutan's example, while still a work in progress, is serving as a catalyst for far broader discussions of national well-being.

Around the world, a growing number of economists, social scientists, corporate leaders and bureaucrats are trying to develop measurements that take into account not just the flow of money but also access to health care, free time with family, conservation of natural resources and other noneconomic factors.

The goal, according to many involved in this effort, is in part to return to a richer definition of the word happiness, more like what the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they included "the pursuit of happiness" as an inalienable right equal to liberty and life itself.

Well, mainly the article says that people have started talking about this, having conferences about it, and so forth. And that it still is a bit of a mystery why people seem to be happier in some places than others. In the low range happiness tends to increase with increased income, but only to a certain point. And some places, like Latin American countries, seem to be happier than they should be, looking at how many people live in poverty. And former communist countries seem to stay unhappy, even after they apparently have achieved higher standards of living. It is hard to quantify happiness, of course, as it isn't a substance. But one has to look at what really motivates people, what they really want, what makes them fulfilled and more alive. And one has to make more of that, however it might be measured, in order to increase any index. All of which is a good thing.

[< Back] [Ming the Mechanic]



7 Oct 2005 @ 06:04 by jstarrs : I guess first off...
...you'd have to define what brings happiness and what brings it's opposite.
We know that the pursuit of developing our human qualities like patience, tolerance, and love for others, etc brings a higher quality to our lives and those around us....thanks, a nice, hopeful article.  

7 Oct 2005 @ 15:06 by rayon : A very basic source of happiness for me
is the awareness (instant knowledge) of a shared experience while in discussion. This can relate to just about anything seen mutually as a common experence to all parties. This allows a level of discussion on a firm basis, when one speaks, he knows he is judged to be on the right track (happy for him) by the others (happy for them) and all together they are sure to be closer to achieving whatever aim the conversation intended (happiness all round, for the time being). Then someone must think of something else to say or do which can be assumed to be another common basis of experience, and so on, until the focus and concentration and mutual Trust, ventures into complex little known areas allowing illumination to the some who may not have ventured so far before, but will have had their eyes opened to the possibilities (unexpected happiness). You can't legislate experience, unless torture is required: it has to be done in fun, loving, heroic, nurturing public ways. Also in the bible one is warned never to envy the situation of another, they never know how they got there, by wishing something, it often happens but with the other unseen consequences too. So by seeing some poor people happy, like the mediterraneans, and wondering why, one should just be pleased (and allow their happiness to spread over). If people (in general) knew the real value of the things they had, like family, village, stream, mountain, goats, in other words have some means to stay in touch with the metaphysical wondorous transformational aspects of life (Italians) they have a link to a happiness, itself. When the environment has become completely denuded of its ability to provide a single life giving experience (the brain is not stupid in anyone, it responds to fresh air) there can be said to be no happiness. When two small boys rush out into a field of soft grass they are equally exhubirante of the life giving release of freshness abounding; two boys, multiply happiness by two for shared experience. Put boy on horse and multiply the life giving release of freshness by two, put two boys on two horses, we have 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16 level of happiness for two small boys on just on rocky ground, not even soft grass (happiness for horse + x 2). There is a false happiness created by the Media which is based on a consumerist desire for continual satiation, for two satiated shopping people it is actually happiness - 1. The more satiated the desire, the shorter the time span of happiness, until just continual misery reigns becoming + 1 + 1 + 1.....  

7 Oct 2005 @ 15:20 by ming : Happiness
Yeah, I guess it is with happiness as with the transition from information to knowledge and wisdom. There are no material goods or exact tangible conditions that somehow add up to happiness. Just like you can't just pile up a certain amount of information to suddenly acquire wisdom. Wisdom is a certain connection one can have, with truth, reality, the universe. And, yes, might make more sense to talk of it as something in the heart. And happiness is when somehow my life force can be free, when I'm doing something that I'm inspired to do, and it is fun and maybe adventurous. But what that is, is different for each of us. Nothing one can make in cookie cutter shapes.

And it is like that with the most important things in life. The can't just be mass produced. Each one is unique. The really good stuff seems to come from a different plane than what we can analyze and reproduce. Happiness and Wisdom have everything to do with the real person inside. Whom you'll never know by studying statistics of average people. But still, something can be learned indirectly. We might notice what kind of stuff makes people happy or wise. And we might need new ways of studying that kind of thing, because it isn't actually the stuff that makes them so.  

13 Oct 2005 @ 11:08 by rayon : And all the while there. . . . .
I thought I had accidently hit on a useful equation scientifically proving Happiness . . . joking aside Ming, I am searching for an article of yours everwhere, twice; it positions two arguements quite clearly, the second says that the Mystery of Beauty must be retained, has to be retained, or all else .. well. in my work I have pushed out this boundary further, to increase a knowledge of beauty without breaking the mystery barrier but to keep it completely comphrehensible. If you could help me locate this article, was it under Culture, I could announce my findings (judged by two practioners, a leading french engineer/architect and an english professor) on this particular lost posting. People are nervous about it, but having lived with it for 12 years, the beauty notations survive well without erosion. Do some some articles disappear by design?

Back on track, I was actually talking about a shared Happiness being a greater sum than the parts. This means people should search out the "shared" to get their due quota. . But I have to say, some stuff does make people happy, because they had a capacity, but a bit of NCN stuff helps.  

13 Oct 2005 @ 13:28 by ming : Shared happiness
Ah, so like a synergy kind of thing. Yes, that's a good way of putting it. A shared experience, and the awareness of it, that somehow becomes something more than the sum of the parts. Something unexpected, something transcendental. Something systemic. Yes, not something that's 2+2+2, but more something with a potential that grows based on the potential inter-connections.

Hm, I'm not sure I can remember what article that can be. I searched too, on beauty, and couldn't seem to find anything that matches it. Hmmmm.  

13 Oct 2005 @ 14:53 by rayon : Like the basis for debate
One position, replied by the Other, not necessarily on beauty, but on need for mystery, sorry not to be more precise, found many items one after other on that search. Wondered if it was part of your Philo course. Mine was first comment, short, used word vibration and universe.

I thought the universal take on Happiness was synergistic.  

14 Oct 2005 @ 19:14 by taranga @ : happiness
I had the privalige to live for a year on a remote island in Kiribati about 35years ago as a VSO volunteer.

By western standards they had, probably still have, one of the lowest incomes on earth, even so one days fishing could feed everyone in the village for several days.

They also had developed one of the most sophisticated racing sailing canoes on the planet, capable of 20 Knots and able to be built without the use of any metal [though now they do save time with imported hand saws] see http://www.janeresture.com/kiribati_canoe/index.htm

If you passed someone on the road and didn't smile and greet them they would be insulted. The way we all ignore each other here would be an indication that you were angry with them for some reason. Of course although the population is small so are the islands. May be we need to develop smaller local communities and make more time for casual social interaction, and then we would see greater happiness.

Even sadder is that their atolls will probably disappear under the rising sea [average height of 2 metres] in the next 20 years. Ah happy days!  

19 Dec 2014 @ 14:14 by Cazzmot @ : GOOwXNRXReJ
I'm writing this reeviw as both a Bhutanese and a frequent reader. I was sad to see numerous factual inaccuracies in the book. I would expect any author to verify facts before immortalizing it in a book, and more so an experienced journalist such as Napoli. It may have appeared inconsequential to her, being afterall parts of small anecdotes here and there, but combined they stand to misinform the reader. What was more disappointing to me and I know that several Bhutanese friends of mine who have also read the book share my sentiments, is that Napoli advertises the book as being about the starting of a Radio Station in the country from the ground up when this is NOT true. Kuzoo, the station in mention, was well set up and functioning a considerable time before her arrival. Her contributions to the station are certainly not to the extent that the author's advertising have us believe. I also found it very misrepresentative of the country as a whole. Napoli's interactions with the Bhutanese were, from what I gather, limited to a small group of individuals. Basing all her research on these few experiences and interactions makes it, to me, rather lacking. I don't claim my country to be any so called shangrila -the irony being that none of us Bhutanese actually do-but to know more about it, all aspects of it, I wouldn't rely on this book. At least turn to authors who provide more depth in their portrayal of the country and people. There are so many facets to the country, any country for that matter, and it's always sad when a book barely grazes beyond the surface. As a reader, I wouldn't say the prose was exceptional in any way. Like a previous reeviwer mentioned, it read more like a series of blog entries that don't quite flow as a book. So, if I had to recommend a book to someone interested in my country, it definitely wouldn't be Radio Shangrila.  

23 Dec 2014 @ 15:22 by Hayden @ : KBFFrxxQCcAissWzOIHY
so first up for me is knowledge and lets see about the rest later. Good One.How to make fire? KnowledgeWhat to do with fire? WisdomHope you will get to know how to make fire and most imntaorptly, how to use it wise.  

Other stories in
2014-09-30 23:43: Good products
2011-12-01 17:56: Are jobs becoming obsolete?
2011-11-20 23:39: Order and violence
2011-11-15 23:30: Being prepared
2011-11-10 01:11: World Transformation
2011-02-23 23:12: The Collective Intelligence Singularity
2009-06-16 00:39: Baseline technology
2009-06-07 15:00: The Giant in Nantes
2008-10-14 19:56: Money and the Crisis of Civilization
2008-05-08 23:01: Why Denmark is the world's happiest country

[< Back] [Ming the Mechanic] [PermaLink]? 

Link to this article as: http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/__show_article/_a000010-001580.htm
Main Page: ming.tv