Economics of Happiness

SUBHEAD: The real solution to the many crisis we face may be to concentrate on what makes us truly happy.

By Sami Grover on 9 November 2010 for - 

Image above: Children of Bhutan. The country that invented the Gross National Happiness Index. From (  

From the confessions of an economic hitman to David Korten urging that we rid ourselves of the Wall Street mafia, the green movement is no stranger to the idea that we may need to rethink conventional economic wisdom if we are going to get out of the crisis we face. But a new movie from the International Society for Ecology and Culture puts it in some unusually simple terms—maybe what we really need to be focusing on is happiness.

The Economics of Happiness, directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page looks at our globalized economy and asks whether it is really delivering on the promises that have been made.

All too often the debate is framed around prosperity and well-being on the one hand, and environmental destruction on the other—it's as if we have to chose between feeding, housing and educating ourselves, or having a livable planet to inhabit. Besides the obviously false nature of that choice, with so many of us suffering from overwork, economic stress, and that niggling feeling that the next big purchase won't really make us as happy as we'd hoped—it's nice to see some people making the case that a simpler, more localized, more community-centered approach to economics might not just make us more sustainable, but more fulfilled too:

"We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents, including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Samdhong Rinpoche, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Michael Shuman, Zac Goldsmith and Keibo Oiwa. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localize, to bring the economy home. The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being. The Economics of Happiness challenges us to restore our faith in humanity, challenges us to believe that it is possible to build a better world."

Amen to that. It's increasingly clear that we need to try something new. An economics of happiness seems like as good a place as any to start.

Video above:Trailer for "The Economics of Happiness". From (


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