Is Government Responsible for Your Happiness?
Posted on October 8, 2014 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
I came across a very interesting article on the net about the government and the people of Bhutan. I mentioned this in one of my blogs when researching OHP back in January.
Occupational Health Psychology (OHP), a relatively new discipline, emerged from two distinct applied psychology disciplines, health psychology and industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology, as well as occupational health. According to Wikipedia, “[OHP] concerns the application of psychology to improving the quality of work life, and to protecting and promoting the safety, health and well-being of workers. OHP is concerned with psychosocial factors in the work environment and the development, maintenance, and promotion of employee health and that of their families. OHP includes a number of other disciplines, occupational sociology, industrial engineering, economics, preventive medicine, public health and others.
Back to Bhutan. This country keeps a happiness meter on its people and that’s how they measure how well things are going in that country. How wonderful! How simple!
From the excerpt:
“The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan measures its economic development and growth not with the conventional measure of GDP, but with the holistic, multidimensional measure of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which is measured based on economic self-reliance, environmental preservation, cultural promotion and good governance. The government’s goal is to balance economic progress with the spiritual and emotional well-being of the people.”
“Bhutan is known for shunning conventional development and going its own way. The first foreign tourists didn’t come to the country until 1974, and the government allows only 9,000 to enter per year, each of whom pay fees of $200 per day. Television and the Internet arrived only in 1999. Most recently, the Government of Bhutan made it illegal to sell tobacco or smoke in public, becoming the first officially non-smoking nation.”
“This statistic is compiled from responses to the survey question: “Taking all things together, would you say you are: very happy, quite happy, not very happy, or not at all happy?” The “Happiness (net)” statistic was obtained via the following formula: the percentage of people who rated themselves as either “quite happy” or “very happy” minus the percentage of people who rated themselves as either “not very happy” or “not at all happy”.”
Back in 2010, Matt McDermott of Treehugger reported in his blog, “How Happy Is Bhutan, Really? Gross National Happiness Unpacked,” that the people of Bhutan still had some room for improvement.
McDermott concluded, “So what’s the tally? How happy is Bhutan? As of 2010, 41% of Bhutanese are identified as happy, with the rest of the population hitting sufficient levels of satisfaction in 57% of the surveyed categories.” Still, NONE are dissatisfied, and that’s huge.
In 2009, Zack O’Malley Greenburg of Forbes wrote an interesting blog, “The World’s Happiest Cities.” A survey conducted by GfK of North America, discovered that the happiest city is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, followed by Sydney, Australia, Barcelona, Spain, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Melbourne, Australia.
Greenburg furthered by quoting Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” she says, “Anyone lucky enough to visit the magical Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan would know that there is no competition: There can be no happier place. This small Buddhist nation of incredibly stunning beauty follows a unique guiding philosophy of GNH–Gross National Happiness. You can see it in their open faces–they smile from the heart. Barcelona has nothing on them.”
They say that you make your own happiness in life and I believe most of that is true if you are wise enough to make good choices with a good education and keen perception. However, where there is war and economic turmoil in a country, how can you make your own happiness then? Most of us would be miserable in those situations and indeed there are those around both rich as well as poor nations who are suffering; jobless, homeless and the starving. Is the government responsible?
McDermott explains that the concept of national happiness is “supremely” important to the people of Bhutan and even has a legal code of 1729, which says, “’if the government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government to exist.’”
Even Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, said, “The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”
In the United States, we grew up with the notion that you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. That coupled with a free will, makes the sky the limit if you study and work hard enough. Most successful people will tell you that.
Are successful people happy? Success does not equal happiness, but it sure helps if success is measured in money.
So, how does one answer the question, is government responsible for our happiness? In my view, the government is responsible for our happiness in many ways. Depending on the decisions it makes and how well or poorly it operates, it has a vast domino effect to every last one of us regardless of age, gender, race, physically challenged, or nationality.
Example: If my income goes down and my taxes go up and up, how will I ever survive, let alone worry about retirement? If I try to save, then I can’t enjoy myself either. If I can’t pay my bills and I worry all the time, it can affect my health. If my health is affected, how can I be happy?
Other folks may look at happiness in a whole different way. What do you think? Do you believe the government is responsible for your happiness?