Measuring Happiness

Laura Keil
Laura Keil, Publisher & Co-owner

By: Laura Keil

Does money buy happiness?

It turns out it does – but only to a point. After $75,000 of income, money ceases to bring any well-being, according to research (and according to my taxes, there is a lot more happiness for me to buy!)

Indeed in Canada, the rise of economic productivity over the past 50 years has failed to bring a corresponding increase in well-being.

This can be partly explained by the fact that Canada measures economic growth through Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But GDP only measures economic exchanges. Car accidents and oil spills actually increase GDP because they involve the shuffle of money.

Why have we committed to the shuffling of money as the herald of progress?

You could say it’s easier to measure money. How do you measure respect or self-respect? How do you measure environmental preservation? These are values we need to take into account when we are mourning the so-called death of our economy.

It’s time we came up with a better measure of well-being.

Obviously having a job is important to well-being, so a slow-down will be hard on people who can’t find work as easily.

But the focus on mere GDP or money exchanges is missing a huge part of the picture. This sense of perspective is also missing from a lot of government decision-making especially from the Conservatives who see social spending as simply an expenditure – not as a well-being creator that could decrease expenses down the road.

Governments are not businesses: it’s not their job to make money. It’s their job to create policies that promote well-being and minimize negative consequences for residents in the short and long-term.

I don’t see why surveys and multiple indicators can’t be used to create a secondary measure of Canadian well-being as is done in other nations.

What are our non-economic treasures in the Valley? What are they worth to you? The beautiful thing about a forest trail or a stream is these are resources that can be “mined” by people’s eyes in perpetuity. Best of all, no ducks covered in sludge!

Take a moment and consider all the “free” things that improve our lives – whether it be community, fresh air, gorgeous scenery or our family.

Roll in the riches all around you.

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