The Royal Government of Bhutan in 2005 made the decision to develop GNH indicators in order to move the concept of GNH from the point of academic discourse to a measurable one. The indicators aim to check whether programmes and policies are consistent with the values of GNH.
Click here for a video about Bhutan.
Click here for an article about Bhutan.
Click here for a simple explanation of GNH.
Click here for an interview with Jigme Y Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan about GNH.
Click here for a printable version of a happiness questionaire by Roie Philom.
The Bhutanese grounding in Buddhist ideals suggests that beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. At this level of generality, the concept of GNH is transcultural—a nation need not be Buddhist in order to value sustainable development, cultural integrity, ecosystem conservation, and good governance. Through collaboration with an international group of scholars and empirical researchers the Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined these four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness- physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. Although the GNH framework reflects its Buddhist origins, it is solidly based upon the empirical research literature of happiness, positive psychology and wellbeing.
There is no exact quantitative definition of GNH, but elements that contribute to GNH are subject to quantitative measurement. Low rates of infant mortality, for instance, correlate positively with subjective expressions of well-being or happiness within a country. The practice of social science has long been directed toward transforming subjective expression of large numbers of people into meaningful quantitative data; there is no major difference between asking people "how confident are you in the economy?" and "how satisfied are you with your job?"
GNH, like the Genuine Progress Indicator, refers to the concept of a quantitative measurement of well-being and happiness. The two measures are both motivated by the notion that subjective measures like well-being are more relevant and important than more objective measures like consumption. It is not measured directly, but only the factors which are believed to lead to it.
According to Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton University psychologist, happiness can be measured using the day reconstruction method, which consists in recollecting memories of the previous working day by writing a short diary.
A second-generation GNH concept, treating happiness as a socioeconomic development metric, was proposed in 2006 by Med Jones, the President of International Institute of Management. The metric measures socioeconomic development by tracking seven development areas including the nation's mental and emotional health. GNH value is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:
The above seven metrics were incorporated into the first Global GNH Survey.
Ed Diener, a psychologist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has developed a scale referred to as subjective well-being, a concept related to happiness and quality of life, which has been used to compare nations to each other on this construct. This study found that "high income, individualism, human rights, and social equality correlated strongly with each other, and with SWB"
Adam Kramer, a psychologist from the University of Oregon, has developed a behavioral model of "Gross National Happiness" based on the use of positive and negative words in social network status updates, resulting in a quantitative GNH metric.
Psychologists say it is possible to measure your happiness.
This test designed by psychologist Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois, takes just a minute to complete.
To find out how happy you are just look at the five statements below and decide whether you agree or disagree using a 1-7 scale.
1. Strongly disagree
3. Slightly disagree
4. Neither agree nor disagree
5. Slightly agree
7. Strongly agree
Please answer these questions as honestly as you can.
1. In most ways my life is ideal.
2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. I am satisfied with my life.
4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
Add up your scores.
Evaluate your Total Score.
31-35 You are extremely satisfied with your life.
26-30 Very satisfied.
21-25 Reasonably satisfied.
15-19 Slightly unsatisfied
5-9 Extremely unsatisfied
GNH is based on the premise that the calculation of wealth should consider other aspects besides economic development: the preservation of the environment and the quality of life of the people. The goal of a society should be the integration of material development with psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects - all in harmony with the Earth.
The Four Pillars of GNH
* the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
* the preservation and promotion of cultural values
* the conservation of the natural environment, and
* the establishment of good governance
Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components.
In the 2nd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2000), evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby say that happiness comes from "encountering unexpected positive events". In the 3rd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2008), Michael Lewis says "happiness can be elicited by seeing a significant other". According to Mark Leary, as reported in a November 1995 issue of Psychology Today, "we are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others". In a March 2009 edition of The Journal of Positive Psychology, Sara Algoe and Jonathan Haidt say that "happiness" may be the label for a family of related emotional states, such as joy, amusement, satisfaction, gratification, euphoria, and triumph.
According to a review in Boston.com on August 23, 2009, money doesn't buy much happiness unless it's used in certain ways. "Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money - even a lot more money - makes them only a little bit happier." However we can sometimes get more happiness bang for our buck by spending it in prosocial ways. A Harvard Business School study found that "spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves".
There are various factors that have been correlated with happiness, but no validated method has been found to improve happiness in a meaningful way for most people.
Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive
Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have
1. Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.),
2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).
There have also been some studies of how religion relates to happiness. Causal relationships remain unclear, but more religion is seen in happier people. This correlation may be the result of community membership and not necessarily belief in religion itself. Another component may have to do with ritual, according to a 2009 article in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.
Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 - June 8, 1970), an American professor of psychology, founded humanistic psychology. A visual aid he created to explain his theory, which he called the hierarchy of needs, is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological, and physical. When a human being ascends the steps of the pyramid, he reaches self-actualization. Beyond the routine of needs fulfillment, Maslow envisioned moments of extraordinary experience, known as peak experiences, profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during which a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world.
An interpretation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.
Richard Layard (born 15 March 1934) is a British economist. He was founder- director in 1990 of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. He argues that people in the West could live happier lives, if instead of focusing on the growth of the outer wealth, they concentrated on the growth of inner happiness. At the moment the unbridled selfishness destroys the growth of general happiness. People in the West need a new philosophy on the basis of the happiness research. The goal should be the greatest happiness of all.
Richard Layard stated, "Although the people in the West have for decades got richer, they have not become happier. (...) Studies show that people are not happier today than 50 years ago. And this is despite the fact that the real median income in this period has more than doubled."On the contrary, people are getting richer externally, and internally unhappier. The likelihood of suffering from a clinical depression is now ten times as large as a century ago.
King Wangchuck of Bhutan's idea that public policy should be more closely tied to wellbeing, how people feel about their lives, is catching on. There is a growing interest in some policymaking circles in looking at these measures, says Richard Easterlin, economics professor at the University of Southern California. We have been misguided in dismissing what people say about how happy they are and simply assuming that if they are consuming more apples and buying more cars they are better off. There are efforts to devise a new economic index that would measure wellbeing gauged by things like satisfaction with personal relationships, employment, and meaning and purpose in life, as well as, for example, the extent new drugs and technology improve standards of living.
The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University. Take a few moments to take the survey. This is a good way to get a snapshot of your current level of happiness. You can even use your score to compare to your happiness level at some point in the future by taking the survey again. If you are using some of the interventions presented on this site to raise your happiness level, you can see whether your score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire goes up as a result.
Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:
1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree
Please read the statements carefully, because some are phrased positively and others negatively. Don't take too long over individual questions; there are no "right" or "wrong" answers (and no trick questions). The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult, please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.
1. I don't feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____
2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____
3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____
4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____
5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____
6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____
7. I find most things amusing. _____
8. I am always committed and involved. _____
9. Life is good. _____
10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____
11. I laugh a lot. _____
12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____
13. I don't think I look attractive. (R) _____
14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____
15. I am very happy. _____
16. I find beauty in some things. _____
17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____
18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____
19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____
20. I feel able to take anything on. _____
21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____
22. I often experience joy and elation. _____
23. I don't find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____
24. I don't have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____
25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____
26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____
27. I don't have fun with other people. (R) _____
28. I don't feel particularly healthy. (R) _____
29. I don't have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____
Calculate your score
Step 1. Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:
If you gave yourself a "1," cross it out and change it to a "6."
Change "2? to a "5?
Change "3? to a "4?
Change "4? to a "3?
Change "5? to a "2?
Change "6? to a "1?
Step 2. Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)
Step 3. Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.
I recommend you record your score and the date. Then you'll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date. This can be especially helpful if you are trying some of the exercises, and actively working on increasing your happiness.
UPDATE: A lot of people have been asking for some kind of interpretation of the raw number "happiness score" you get in step 3 above. What follows is just off the top of my head, but it's based in part on the fact that the average person gets a score of about 4.
INTERPRETATION OF SCORE
I suggest you read all the entries below regardless of what score you got, because I think there's valuable information here for everyone.
1-2 : Not happy. If you answered honestly and got a very low score, you're probably seeing yourself and your situation as worse than it really is. I recommend taking the Depression Symptoms test (CES-D Questionnaire) at the University of Pennsylvania's "Authentic Happiness" Testing Center. You'll have to register, but this is beneficial because there are a lot of good tests there and you can re-take them later and compare your scores.
2-3 : Somewhat unhappy. Try some of the exercises on this site like the Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists, or the Gratitude Visit; or take a look at the "Authentic Happiness" site mentioned immediately above.
3-4 : Not particularly happy or unhappy. A score of 3.5 would be an exact numerical average of happy and unhappy responses. Some of the exercises mentioned just above have been tested in scientific studies and have been shown to make people lastingly happier.
4 : Somewhat happy or moderately happy. Satisfied. This is what the average person scores.
4-5 : Rather happy; pretty happy. Check other score ranges for some of my suggestions.
5-6 : Very happy. Being happy has more benefits than just feeling good. It's correlated with benefits like health, better marriages, and attaining your goals.
6 : Too happy. Yes, you read that right. Recent research seems to show that there's an optimal level of happiness for things like doing well at work or school, or for being healthy, and that being "too happy" may be associated with lower levels of such things.
Rank Country SWL 1 Denmark 273 2 Switzerland 273 3 Austria 260 4 Iceland 260 5 The Bahamas 256 6 Finland 256 7 Sweden 256 8 Bhutan 253 9 Brunei 253 10 Canada 253 11 Ireland 253 12 Luxembourg 253 13 Costa Rica 250 14 Malta 250 15 Netherlands 250 16 Antigua uda 246 17 Malaysia 246 18 New Zealand 246 19 Norway 246 20 Seychelles 246 21 Saint Kittsis 246 22 United Arab Em 246 23 United States 246 24 Vanuatu 246 25 Venezuela 246 26 Australia 243 27 Barbados 243 28 Belgium 243 29 Dominica 243 30 Oman 243 31 Saudi Arabia 243 32 Suriname 243 33 Bahrain 240 34 Colombia 240 35 Germany 240 36 Guyana 240 37 Honduras 240 38 Kuwait 240 39 Panama 240 40 Saint Vincent 240 41 United Kingdom 236 42 Dominican Rep 233 43 Guatemala 233 44 Jamaica 233 45 Qatar 233 46 Spain 233 47 Saint Lucia 233 48 Belize 230 49 Cyprus 230 50 Italy 230 51 Mexico 230 52 Samoa 230 53 Singapore 230 54 Solomon Is. 230 55 Trinidad & Tob 230 56 Argentina 226 57 Fiji 223 58 Israel 223 59 Mongolia 223 60 So Tom and Pr 223 61 El Salvador 220 62 France 220 63 Hong Kong 220 64 Indonesia 220 65 Kyrgyzstan 220 66 Maldives 220 67 Slovenia 220 68 China 220 69 East Timor 220 70 Tonga 220 71 Chile 216 72 Grenada 216 73 Mauritius 216 74 Namibia 216 75 Paraguay 216 76 Thailand 216 77 Czech Republic 213 78 Philippines 213 79 Tunisia 213 80 Uzbekistan 213 81 Brazil 210 82 China 210 83 Cuba 210 84 Greece 210 85 Nicaragua 210 86 Papua New Gui 210 87 Uruguay 210 88 Gabon 206 89 Ghana 206 90 Japan 206 91 Yemen 206 92 Portugal 203 93 Sri Lanka 203 94 Tajikistan 203 95 Vietnam 203 96 Iran 200 97 Comoros 196 98 Croatia 196 99 Poland 196 100 Cape Verde 193 101 Kazakhstan 193 102 South Korea 193 103 Madagascar 193 104 Bangladesh 190 105 Congo 190 106 The Gambia 190 107 Hungary 190 108 Libya 190 109 South Africa 190 110 Cambodia 186 111 Ecuador 186 112 Kenya 186 113 Lebanon 186 114 Morocco 186 115 Peru 186 116 Senegal 186 117 Bolivia 183 118 Haiti 183 119 Nepal 183 120 Nigeria 183 121 Tanzania 183 122 Benin 180 123 Botswana 180 124 Guinea-Bissau 180 125 India 180 126 Laos 180 127 Mozambique 180 128 Palestinian 180 129 Slovakia 180 130 Myanmar 176 131 Mali 176 132 Mauritania 176 133 Turkey 176 134 Algeria 173 135 Equatorial Gui 173 136 Romania 173 137 Bosnia & Herze 170 138 Cameroon 170 139 Estonia 170 140 Guinea 170 141 Jordan 170 142 Syria 170 143 Sierra Leone 166 144 Azerbaijan 163 145 Cen African Rep163 146 Macedonia 163 147 Togo 163 148 Zambia 163 149 Angola 160 150 Djibouti 160 151 Egypt 160 152 Burkina Faso 156 153 Ethiopia 156 154 Latvia 156 155 Lithuania 156 156 Uganda 156 157 Albania 153 158 Malawi 153 159 Chad 150 160 Cote d'Ivoire 150 161 Niger 150 162 Eritrea 146 163 Rwanda 146 164 Bulgaria 143 165 Lesotho 143 166 Pakistan 143 167 Russia 143 168 Swaziland 140 169 Georgia 136 170 Belarus 133 171 Turkmenistan 133 172 Armenia 123 173 Sudan 120 174 Ukraine 120 175 Moldova 116 176 Congo 110 177 Zimbabwe 110 178 Burundi 100
Last revised January 2012.
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All contents copyright (C) 2012, Roie Philom. All rights reserved.