Monday, December 28, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness

Richard Layard
Originally uploaded by Andy Miah
This blog has been rather quiet - or to be more honest - dead for some time now. My apologies for that. One of my New Year´s resolutions is the following: one post and one post only per week.

The new focus: things making us happier. That takes me back to the name of this blog. My favourite word in the Dutch language, kiplekker, basically means chicken licking good.

I finally made my way through economist Richard Layard´s (pic) classic Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (2005). Layard´s basic argument is that the obstacles we once had for using people´s feelings as a measure of societal success are more or less removed. Brain research today gives us enough evidence to measure happiness and well being. This provides us with an opportunity to move further from economic growth and behaviorism that have driven politics for ages now.

Layard stresses one of the things that we work with a lot at Demos Helsinki: that even if all the material things are well, we are more affluent than we have ever been, that does not result to happiness. In a way we as societies are failing the ultimate test: are we building societies where people do well? Every day greater numbers of people feel like they lack a sense of self, skills to deal with their feelings and a sense of relevance in relation to others. Layard puts special emphasis on issues such as helping the poor of the world, reducing unemployment, treating mental illnesses, finding new measuring criteria next to economic growth and supporting family life as ways to happier societies.

So the blog goal is now set for 2010: once a week a post over a phenomenon, project, advertisement, person, website, sports club that is enough reason to get excited about. There´s one more criteria.

The things covered need to answer YES to the following:
Does it create happiness?
and NO to the following:
Does it harm others?
And finally YES to the following (question taken from Charlie from Make Nubs):
Is it fresh?

More to follow.