BehaviorGap Happiness vs. Income“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?

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