Happiness is enjoyment of life, also called "subjective well-being" or "life-satisfaction". An enjoyable life is not always a good life, but still something worth striving for. Most people want to be happy. Happiness was rated as the most important thing in life in a world-wide survey among university students1. Happiness is also desirable for other reasons; research has shown that it enhances social behavior2 and lengthens life3. Happiness is also a sign that human needs are met.
Given that happiness is something very valuable, it is also important to consider what factors make us happy and how we can work towards increasing happiness individually, nationally and globally. Within the past few years we can notice a larger awareness about happiness research in the scientific scene and in the community debate thanks to the empirical research about happiness. The amount of published articles regarding happiness is constantly increasing. Several thousands of academic articles have touched on the subject and the result of happiness research has been published in journals as prominent as Science and Nature. Therefore our knowledge about what factors correlate with people’s happiness has increased.
Lately, politicians have started to show an interest in happiness research as an important foundation for decision-making. The devotion of scientists such as Richard Layard, Ed Diener, Daniel Kahneman and Alan B.Krueger has meant their studies are so accurate and reliable that they should be used as important guides in political decision-making. In Great Britain, the Labour party established a “Whitehall Wellbeing Working Group” which comes up with ideas on how to have more happiness minded politics. The president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has presented an extensive scientific report on how new and better measures of the community welfare could look. The report that is written by, among others, the Nobel Prize winners in economy Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, end in the conclusion that the economic vision as a measure of the community welfare is incomplete and in some cases misleading They propose that happiness should be considered one of the key factors of community welfare in addition to the economic and social indicators.
Taken together you could say there is a better understanding that people’s experiences of happiness and wellbeing make an important measure of the community welfare. Politicians should take the result of the happiness research seriously and consider what political decisions give people a better chance to live happy lives.
GHO works closely with politicians, decision-makers and the general public to increase happiness individually, nationally and globally. Join us and help us work towards a happier world!
- 1. Oishi S, Diener E, Lucas RE. The Optimum Level of Well-Being: Can People Be Too Happy? Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2007 Dec;2(4):346-360.
- 2. Lyubomirsky, S. Diener, E. & King, L.A. (2005) The benifits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin 131; 803-855
- 3. Veenhoven, R. Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care (2008) Journal of Happiness Studies, 9: 449-464