Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happiness index arrives in America

Happiness has finally arrived on the American scene as an index of success.

An article in today's New York Times highlights Somerville, MA's effort to track its citizens success based on more than just economics and material wealth. The city's recent census posed several questions intended to gauge each person's happiness, and the answers will guide social policies, such as public transit and park development.

Read the full article here.

In light of the post I wrote a couple months ago about Bhutan's Gross National Happiness, I was delighted by this piece of news. While researchers are still debating whether money and materials do a happy person make, it is with little doubt that happy people do a healthy society make.

I see this effort as tied to the sustainability mantra of the triple bottom line--people, planet, profit. It is a positive step in moving our collective narrative of progress away from the failing economy-focused paradigm. Like happiness, I hope this initiative is contagious.

Photo: Life123


  1. Good news, Jenny! I also see great utility in using happiness as a measure of success. Nice to see that the United States is getting on the bandwagon. It will be very interesting to see what kind of impacts studies such as these have on lifestyle choices and policy.

  2. I love the Happiness Index stuff. Always so fascinating, the results and the methodology! The Danes were the top one last I checked, with the rest of the Scandinavians close behind. I heard that it is largely due to their lack of expectations and desire. Buddha did say that "desire is the cause of all suffering"