The politics of happiness

Happiness is something that everyone wants, it’s one of our most basic needs and can be the centre of a healthy and better life, but it’s something that can often be elusive.

Just because something is elusive doesn’t mean that it’s not worth pursuing though, and that’s why happiness is being taken seriously though around the world, with Governments beginning to set out plans to improve their citizens’ wellbeing rather than simply focussing on tangible goals.

The theory behind this is that by embracing the idea of improving people’s lives in a more personal sense that the desired health, education and economic benefits will develop from there.

Here’s a great video on how the idea has developed around the world:


The idea isn’t new, as the small Asian country of Bhutan introduced the idea of “Gross National Happiness” back in the early 1970s, with the theory that rather than measuring economic growth as the success of a country that measuring people’s wellbeing and overall life quality was just as, if not more, important.

Now, over 40 years later, the idea is still at the core of the country’s Governmental beliefs and there has been significant success because of it.  A 2011 study ranked Bhutan as the 8th best country in the world in terms of subjective well-being, which is a phenomenal achievement given the country’s relative size (with a population of just 750,000).

What’s more though is that Bhutan’s shining example has helped inform wider discussion among some of the world’s most powerful organisations.

In 2011, the OECD launched their “Better Life Index” that focusses on the quality of life in the developed world.  The UN followed suit with their own “World Happiness Report” to measure worldwide wellbeing and adopted a resolution stating that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”.

This year alone has seen two governments take charge of the idea of happiness in their own countries and appoint ministers to oversee the promotion of wellbeing to their people.

The UAE established ministers for happiness and tolerance back in February to “align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction” and earlier this month the Indian region of Madhya Pradesh (with a population of over 70 million people) created a Department of Happiness with a budget of 36 million Rupees (~£400,000) designed to help the local government do more to advance people’s quality of life.

We think it’s amazing that happiness is being taken seriously by the highest levels in society and while worldwide recognition of how important happiness is in people’s lives is growing, there are many things you can do for yourself and your business in bringing these ideas to life in the world around you.

We’re here to help people discover what makes them happy, and we believe that with our selection of over 30 different courses that cover so many interesting and fun topics that everyone can find something here that they can learn and put to good use.



White, A. (2007). “A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge To Positive Psychology?” Psychtalk, Vol. 56, pp. 17-20.

Helliwell, J. et al. (2016) “World Happiness Report 2016”.  United Nations.

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