As Dr. Brooks mentioned in his last post, it would be a great idea if countries around the world would start measuring their “Gross Domestic Happiness” instead of the Gross Domestic Product. It so happens that one small Asian country, Bhutan, has already started doing this and inspired the United Nations to adopt a new resolution outlining the need for a new economic paradigm based on human happiness and wellbeing. Here is a quote from this resolution (taken from a recently published Shambhala Times article, see the linked article below):
“[…]happiness is a fundamental human goal and universal aspiration; that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by its nature does not reflect that goal; that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption impede sustainable development; and that a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty, and enhance wellbeing.”
You can read more about this in the following Shambhala Times article.
A new economic paradigm is necessary because it is becoming increasingly clear that our current paradigm is not working well for us. The interesting thing is that sustainable practices that take care of the natural environment, altruistic, ethical business practices, and compassionate, long-term goals are more conducive to our personal happiness. Reversely, looking out for our own personal gain and maximizing profit in the short term, regardless of the consequences of these practices on the welfare of others, does not seem to lead to happiness and wellbeing. In fact, these “selfish” economic practices seem to be an important contributor to the huge environmental and social problems our world is facing today.
As Dr. Brooks described in his previous post, the recent research on happiness and wellbeing shows clearly that our connections with others and having a sense of meaning in our lives are the most important factors in our personal happiness and wellbeing. Aggression, selfishness, and greed, on the other hand, separate us from others. Even though it may lead to material wealth, looking out for “me” at the expense of others only serves to separate and isolate us, and does not meaningfully contribute to wellbeing and happiness. You can read more about these ideas in this article I wrote before.
It seems that a new economic paradigm based on human happiness and wellbeing should go hand in hand with a new paradigm of human nature: one that assumes human basic goodness and connectedness, rather than selfishness and separateness. I promise to write more about this topic in a future post.