“At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.” — Paul Hawken
In 2010, two Princeton University professors sought to answer the age-old question, can money buy happiness? Yes, but only up to $75,000.
Their study found that in the United States, beyond $75,000 of personal income participants reported no increase in happiness and no lessening of unhappiness or stress.
It makes sense that until your basic needs are met, happiness is illusive. What is more interesting is that after meeting your basic needs with a little left over, there isn’t an increase in happiness.
So what is the American dream of wealth all about? It doesn’t appear to be about happiness. Why do we work so hard to achieve a goal that doesn’t bring us increased emotional well-being? What is the acquisition of stuff really about?
The country of Bhutan has focused its attention on Gross National Happiness (GNH). The term was coined in 1972 as a way to measure the countries success instead of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.
GNH holds four pillars, promotion of sustainable development, preservation of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and the establishment of good governance.
Some days, I think I would like to immigrate to Bhutan.
But then I come back to reality and recognize I already live my life aligned with my personal values of sustainability, respect and care for the natural world, honoring the path of each individual, and holding the intention for the highest good for all.
So here I am in the US, blessed to be over the happiness income threshold. Perhaps all there is for me to do today is to slow down, be present with my family and friends, and be the change I wish to see in the world.
If the U.S. were to implement a Gross National Happiness scale how do you think it should be measured?