Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happiness in a Survey

I have written often about the importance of happiness for your own life and for the good of society. Friends of the Earth did a brilliant World Happiness Index a few years ago (just last week I was in one of their happiest places on the planet, Costa Rica). Britain has introduced happiness as a national economic indicator. And the New York Times has just reported that the 76,000 residents of Somerville Massachusetts are being asked to rate their level of happiness on a 1-to-10 scale in an annual civic survey. The blue collar but gentrifying city wants to make decisions about transportation, space planning, policing, education, affordable housing, and how the happiness of citizens factors into these decisions. I say bravo, especially to the man who, in answer to the question “How satisfied are you with your life in general?” rated himself only a 6, explaining, “I would like to be three inches taller and speak Quechua fluently.

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