Friday, May 30, 2014

Tidbits on Happiness In Policy - At A Happiness Conference Post 7

Gwen Coleman of GPI Atlantic, the organization that helped form Bhutan's GNH and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Index, gave a talk this morning. She began with the basis of the wellbeing and happiness indexes: ethics and values.

Gwen teaches GNH to youth in Bhutan. Because Gwen was one of those who helped form the concept of GNH.
She gave an example of a lesson:
What is happiness?
What is wellbeing?
The kind of happiness where you have enough to eat.
Have you ever seen someone starving in Bhutan?
Why not?
Because no Bhutanese person would ever see someone go hungary. Because they would give their food away.

It all comes to a spiritual or ethical path that is individual. What does wellbeing mean to you? She beings it down to: counting human, social, environmental, democratic, and other capitals. 

Most of Gwen's work focuses on an objective measure of wellbeing, the Genuine Progress Indicators. With this indicator, she has worked in Nova Scotia, Canada to measure happiness and wellbeing and influence policy. Examples of her work can be found here. She has also worked with the Mauri Nation in New Zealand to help them adopt the GPI, in short, revolutionary work. 

Past Governor of Vermont and current Vermont State Senator Anthony Pollina spoke about the importance of using the GPI and GNH. He gave the example of balancing the budget where the fallout was leaving clean-up for future years and healthcare needs unmet. He talked about how a singular focus on monetary goals is remedied by use of the GPI and how using the GPI can help address crucial issues of unemployment,  inequality and investing in renewable energy. He called on the building on of GPI.  

Tony Cortese spoke of the transformation from the old ways of thinking (and educating) that created the problems needing to be fixed. He created an organization called Second Nature and works with schools, and has had wide ranging. He gave us the foundations for change: building broad coalitions. 

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