Monday, June 22, 2015

A Happiness Dream: Summit for equitable sustainability for our planet

 Last year I posted a dream for a happiness collaboratory that emerged after attending the high level
meeting at the UN that officially launched the happiness movement. Well, that dream has not come true - but that had not stopped me from dreaming on!  It has been over a year since this dream hatched, so here it is: 

My dream: A strategic summit for building the happiness movement

Led by the small Himalayan nation of Bhutan, many countries and organizations   As yet, these movements are nascent and often poorly organized or even chaotic.  Serious strategic conversations are necessary to provide leadership for this hopeful new movement and unite its diverse strands.  Until now, “happiness conferences” have been broad affairs open to the general public and have not allowed leading experts and practitioners to strategize together in a meaningful way. Activists, academics and policy makers
throughout the world are looking to develop public policies and encourage personal change with a goal of increasing “equitable and sustainable wellbeing and happiness,” (GNH) rather than Gross Domestic Product.

What it is:  We propose a 3-day intensive meeting to bring together carefully chosen invitees to ponder key questions that are essential to driving the wellbeing and happiness movement forward: A Happiness Summit

Who would come:  The summit shall include no fewer than 20 and no more than 40 participants.

The format:  The summit would minimize oral presentations with perhaps only a handful of  speakers, chosen to set the framework for the conversation. .  Most of the work of the conference would take   The discussion would be oriented around key questions for the movement, such as: 
place in rotating small groups, using a world café model or other carefully facilitated group discussion format.

  • How does the movement effect social justice and environmental sustainability?
  • How can we effectively communicate these ideas to the general public?
  • What are the main opposition arguments from both Right and Left against making happiness and wellbeing a goal of government policy?
  • How do we understand the Bhutan domain model of wellbeing and happiness?
  • What is the nexus between the happiness movement and field of positive psychology?  
  • How can we measure well-being, happiness and sustainability objectively and subjectively?
  • What do the thousands of scores on the Gross National Happiness Index survey tell us about wellbeing and happiness in the US and its distribution among the population?
  • How might we promote the use of the Gross National Happiness Index in communities throughout the US and how might we translate its results into policy change and personal development?  How can we use the Gross National Happiness policy tool in assessing possible legislation?
  • What are the essential leverage points for interventions in the economy to improve wellbeing?  How might a Gross National Happiness policy tool help in choosing such interventions?
  • What are the “best practices” in the happiest countries and how might they be replicated in the US and elsewhere?
  • Where levels of government provide the most opportunity for policy interventions (eg. Local, state, federal) and what are some examples within the United States?
  • Who are the low-hanging fruit in terms of political support for GNH?
  • Where do I fit in and what role can I play in this happiness movement?  Where do  other organizations fit in?
  • How do we work together effectively?
  • Who else?

Participants will explore these questions in an interactive way, and will be encouraged to do some preliminary reading assignments.

More on who:  Carefully chosen experts and activists currently involved in the happiness and wellbeing movements.  Carefully selected public officials who are involved in the Genuine Progress Indicator and other wellbeing measures.  Expertise from each of the domains of wellbeing and for diversity in age, race, and gender among the participants.

Posted by Laura Musikanski, executive director of the Happiness Alliance