I spent part of my day over at the United Nations, at a conference on “Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” hosted by Bhutan, the country which has championed the idea of using “Gross National Happiness” in place of “Gross National Product” to measure national progress. There’s a growing emphasis, throughout the world, in considering new ways for governments to measure and foster the well-being of citizens.
(I got a kick from seeing that the March 28 New York Times article about the conference had the headline The U.N. Happiness Project. Yes, happiness projects for all!)
Because I spend most of my time thinking about how individuals can boost their happiness, I found it very interesting to hear discussion focusing on the role of government, and to think about what indicators should be considered. How do you gauge the happiness and well-being of a country? What issues do you take into account? It’s a very tricky question.
On a less high-minded note, I got a real kick out of being at the U.N. It’s an impressive institution. I sat at one of those long desks with a simultaneous-translation headset, so I could listen to the speeches being given in eight different languages. I felt quite official.