Saturday, April 23, 2011

Measurement of Happiness

Inspired by a TED video by Chip Conley's Measuring what makes life worthwhile, all of us are trying to achieve success. Most of us thought money shall bring us success, thus we are going for money. Is happiness a better indicator for success, after all we thought money could bring us happiness. Why are we pursuing money instead of happiness? Because happiness is hard to measure, difficult to grasp and quite illusive and intangible.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted - Albert Einstein

We have GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to measure the economic success of the country, since almost everyone is trying to make more money, why not. Did you forget the reason why we wanted to make more money? To achieve happiness, and to the fulfilled the lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is physiological and safety. Should we focus on our higher level need such as Love/belonging, Esteem and Self Actualization? How can we measure such needs? Through GNH (Gross National Happiness), to measure quality of life and social progress in a more holistic and psychological terms.

200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in the United States Declaration of Independence. 200 years later, GNH started in Bhutan, where the King has the wisdom to focus on his people’s welfare and happiness, rather than asking them to work harder and make more money (solving one problem but creating more problems). Bhutan’s goal is not to create happiness, but to create the condition that foster happiness.

Emotional Equation = Wanting what you have / Having what you want

Robert Kennedy, “GDP measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” GDP could calculate air pollution or destruction of forest (did it?), but it didn’t calculate the health of our children or the integrity of public official.

For company, rather than focus on employee’s tangible output, perhaps we should measure the intangible qualities as well. Is the extra sweet and polite receptionist appreciated for her contribution in making everyone who approach her happier? Is honesty and helpfulness in the workplace appreciated? Is staff who jell the team and make everyone cheerful important? Besides counting how much hours you clock in or how many work you completed, there are more intangible things to go around (and we probably need a reasonable metrics rather than based on subjectivity).

Is happiness something we have to pursuit? Or is happiness appreciating what we have. I know we still didn’t quite grasp “happiness”, and most of us seem to always go the wrong way, and knowing go that way. There must be something wrong with the world, the society and probably ourselves. What is wrong with our mind, are we not programmed to live a happy life, or are we corrupted by the dark forces of money.

We all know happiness is good, just that we are not heading the right direction. Last advice from Conley, we should start counting what is really important in our lives.

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