Happiness, as simple as it sounds, has become a ‘#goal’ in today’s time.
With progressive measures of productivity and performance, happiness and well-being have been constructs that have gained far more importance over the singular measure of economic (/financial) growth. It is no more the Gross National Income that matters but Happiness Index that measures the productivity levels of countries. Very simply understood, evolutionarily, happiness is what humans strive for. With greater insights, globally, it is being understood that it is no more the income, profit margins or gross productivity that matters but rather, the well-being of citizens. Invariably, happy and healthy citizenship will lead to greater productivity. The happier the individual, greater is the ability to perform, consequently, greater are the performance outputs/benefits.
The Global Happiness and Well Being Policy Report 2019, launched by the UAE, is out, yet again reinforcing the importance of happiness to our now-prevailing iGeneration. This report provides rigorous evidence, case studies and detailed policy recommendations on efficient ways to promote happiness and well-being via public policy. Global Council for Happiness and Wellbeing (GCHW) is a global network of leading happiness and well-being scientists and key practitioners from diverse fields. GHC is responsible for identifying the best available evidence-based happiness and well-being policies and to encourage their adoption and advancement at the local, national, and international levels. The work of the Council is found to be seen complementary to that of the annual World Happiness Report. The GHC data also finds relevance with the research on the theory, measurement, and advancement of happiness and well-being.
It is hard to miss the importance that global governments, institutions and organisations have given to happiness and well-being in the recent decade. It is equally inevitable to mention and discuss the three reasons why happiness and well being are the starred priority of global policy agenda:
- Increasing number of nations are realising that economic growth solely is insufficient to produce happiness
- As positive psychological constructs, happiness and well-being are quantitatively and qualitatively measurable entities
- New and effective public policies for raising societal well-being have taken shape
With happiness and well being coming to be of paramount significance, it is being realised and internalised that it is no more an individual phenomenon. It is a societal responsibility and a responsibility of the government. With 7.7 billion people, $17,500 per person, an astoundingly high average for the world, the happiness levels remain considerably low. Personal variables have always taken the back seat till now, where governments and important stakeholders have primed the concept of happiness among working individuals.
UAE’s initiative on this policy brings the major stakeholders like governments, businesses, schools, city planning, health systems, and other institutions in society to identify and implement the best practices of happiness. What is being identified to measure happiness and well-being in the state are variables like- accessibility of mental health services for those suffering from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and various other common and severe mental disorders and the feasibility of promoting and practicing the happiness curriculum. Other services like government initiatives for awareness about mental health issues, sensitivity to employee needs of preventing burnout at the workplace, public accessibility to resources, access and optimal justice to human rights and many such provisions that contribute to long term happiness and well-being. Public policy is one of the stronger means that governments are gathering efforts to develop and implement for achieving pan-level happiness across states. A global level initiative that deems promising to lead to happiness are the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs, 2015-2030). With a commitment towards a world with equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels, to health care and social protection, where physical, mental, and social well-being are assured, the SDGs are promising to achieve global happiness and well-being.
Income and happiness have quick and stark diminishing marginal returns. Countries ranking high up on happiness are not those with the highest income per capita but are rather those that are closest to reaching the 17 SDGs – those that have the highest social capital, the most inclusive and equitable economies, and policies that effectively protect and promote the natural environment.
Pragya Lodha is the Chief Knowledge Officer at One Future Collective.
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