what we can be, we must be.

The second part in a three-part series about “Great Places” by David Roberts, Turning from Stuff to Happiness is a great collection of resources and things to think about when it comes to how we “measure” our health, well-being and happiness.

Life seems to be a constant race: we have to get to our next meeting, a party, a work commitment, we must secure the newest techie gadget, we have to keep up with the world around us.  But does our work bring us fulfillment?  How are we spending our time on the internet?  Are we connecting with our kids, with nature, with music and art?  Why do we have measures for financial success but not for happiness?   Shouldn’t we have a shift in how we live out our days and how we make decisions?  Roberts says,

Once we’ve secured a degree of material security, greater happiness comes not with more stuff but with social connection, a sense of personal autonomy and efficacy, the recognition/affirmation of peers, and a larger purpose beyond self-interest. 

Forty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy challenged the basic way we measure progress and well-being in America. Today, the Glaser Progress Foundation is raising the same questions through a new medium. The Seattle-based foundation released a new web video marking the anniversary of a famous speech in which Kennedy said the Gross Domestic Product counts “everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

In Bhutan, residents’ Gross National Happiness is taken into account and considered when it comes to creating policies and cultural security.  In Somerville, Massachusetts, the city’s census asked questions about residents’ general happiness to make more informed decisions:

Officials here want this Boston suburb to become the first city in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness. Like leaders in Britain, France and a few other places, they want to move beyond the traditional measures of success — economic growth — to promote policies that produce more than just material well-being.

If your city asked you to rate your happiness, how would you rate it?  What factors would you take into account?  Schools, green space, traffic, local business, proximity to the work place?  Does the place we live and our connection to it have a lot to do with how happy we are?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, with basic needs at the bottom

With summertime around the corner, we have longer days of sunshine to look forward to.  More of our time is flexible as we visit with friends and family and get outside more often than those cold winter months.  What do you need to be a happier you? 🙂


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