Sunday, July 22, 2012

Linking the individual to the policy - a happiness issue

We are working hard to continuously improve the Happiness Initiative.  On Monday, July 16, Laura Musikanski, Zack Walsh and Tracy McDonald held a virtual meeting.  Our general goal was to explore ways we might strengthen the linkage between the individuals who take our survey to our larger goal of policy change.  Most people take the survey and are curious as to how they score on the various dimensions and how they compare to other individuals.  After seeing their scores, most people attempt to identify ways in which they might improve their score on a particular dimension.  For example, if you score low in the area of physical health, you might start thinking of ways to improve your health.  If your income is low, you might find there are no low- to no-fee facilities in your community to provide guidance in improving your health.  You might stop there, stuck, or you might see the need for policy change regarding accessible health care in your community.  The next step might to get your neighbors involved and then approach your city council.  In the latter example, there is that bridge between the individual's experience of taking the survey and the larger goal of the Initiative:  that of policy change.  Currently, this is our major focus.  If you have any ideas or examples of how we can strengthen that linkage, let us know.

The three of us also had a intriguing discussion of how to bring mindfulness practice into the Initiative.  All three of use believe that mindfulness is key to creating a calmer, less stress-filled life.   Mindfulness has a positive effect not only on the individual who engages in the practice, but on those with whom that individual interacts. In terms of policy, mindfulness training has taken place in schools, prisons and large companies such as Google. 

Telling the story of the Happiness Initiative is a third area we covered.  We would like to convey our story in a clear, succinct, and memorable way, a way that inspires individuals who are presented with our story. 

Most of the issues we discussed will involve redesigning various parts of our web site. 

We, at the Happiness Initiative are committed getting our message out to individuals, groups, and policy makers.  Our intention is that more people realize that the amount of disposable income a person has plays a very small role in true wealth.  We hope that citizens, communities, and the government will work together to (e.g.) make health care accessible to all, to insure quality education, to keep neighborhoods safe, to make sure everyone has enough money to eat and to have shelter, and to accomplish all that is contained in the other domains of happiness.

Post by Tracy McDonald of the Happiness Initiative

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