A UN High level Meeting in 2012 on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” was carried out to bring world leaders together on the holistic concept of economic sustainability and wellbeing and to encourage them to measure their development in this way. In the last 20 years Bhutan has doubled life expectancy, enrolled almost 100% of its children in primary school and overhauled its infrastructure.
More recently, New Zealand, under the stewardship of Jacinda Ardern, released the first ever Well-being Budget in May 2019, outlining their commitment to bolstering mental health, reducing child poverty, supporting indigenous peoples, moving to a low-carbon-emission economy, and flourishing in a digital age. According to Ardern, her government has “laid the foundation for not just one well-being budget, but a different approach for government decision-making altogether.” While the move has invited concern from some who feel it’s a romantic, ideological wish list, time will tell how the country’s well-being and GDP develop.
If a country as small and poor as Bhutan can challenge the world’s entrenched measurement of GDP as the indicator of prosperity and other highly developed nations are now taking up the baton, then it offers great hope for the potential of changing organisation’s prioritisation of happiness. A nation’s happiness is rather influenced by people’s prosperity in their careers so creating a happy nation is rather dependent on creating happier employment.