Monday, September 7, 2020

Two Happiness takeaways

Early September 2020, Laura Musikanski, Executive Director of the Happiness Alliance, gave a talk on the application of the construct of happiness and well-being in the tech sector. Here it is for you:
Two little know facts about happiness are that (1)happiness and well-being is a well understood and accepted concept among academia, governments and society and (2) happiness and well-being can and does serve as the basis for strategy, goals and management through data and indicators. Let’s take a high-level look at the history. First - in the happiness movement, we use the terms happiness and well-being interchangeably. In a sense, our understanding of happiness as a goal for government and life goes back to ancient history- reflected in the Western culture by Aristotle’s statement that happiness is the sole aim and purpose of life. More recently Maslow, whom you are familiar with through the concept of a hierarchy of needs, established the now robust study of well-being in the psychological field. In our generation Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi came along and gave rise to the field called positive psychology, formalizing the study of what makes us happy. With the turn of our century, some economists turned to a more complex idea of happiness and well-being in lieu of the singular aims of profit, personal wealth and economic growth as the goals of economies, government and life. In 2012, the first World Happiness Report was issued, which you have probably heard about when you see reports about the world’s happiest county. The next year, the OECD, which issues the reports about nations GDP levels each year, definitively answered the question of whether happiness can be measured with the OECD guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. This followed important work Bhutan had done as the first nation in the world to both measure and use happiness as the purpose of government – from its constitution to its planning. Today every nation in the EU and every member state of the OECD is measuring some aspect of happiness and well-being many of them more than one aspect. One more recent development is New Zealand’s use of well-being in its national budgeting.
By now you are probably wondering about the intercept of subjective (survey) based and objective indicators for happiness and well-being. Look in the direction of the 247 indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals –the SDGs – and the gaps in them filled by subjective indicators.
If you take the Happiness Index, you get a direct experience of how subjective indicators can both inform you about the definition of happiness and well-being as well as provide knowledge and ideas about how to safeguard and improve your happiness and well-being with the happiness index. As you can see, with subjective data we can understand what people think about their own lives, such in this infographic, we see that this group is suffering in time balance and the environment and doing well in psychological well-being and standard of living, which shows us where there is room for improvement and gives us clues about how to get there – which strengths to build on. We could look into the data and see how certain demographic, for example race, economic status, education level, compare to others, giving us a way, to define through data, difficult issues such as social injustice.
Finally, on operationalizing happiness and well-being as a construct and with indicators and data, look at IEEE 7010-2020. This project is one of many inspired by the Ethically Aligned Design program, and give you a knowledge base, a process as well as a robust bank of indicators for understanding, measuring and managing the impact of AI on human well-being – you can now access IEEE 7010Recommended Practice for Assessing the Impact of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems on Human Well-Being freely through IEEE’s reading room (scroll down, create a profile, and login - it take sa minute but is better than the alternative of paying about $300 USD to access). In conclusion the two takeaways:happiness and well-being are a well understood and accepted concept and happiness and well-being can be a basis for strategy, goals and management through data and indicators.

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