»I Have a Nightmare«

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Statistician Nic Marks gave a really interesting talk on happiness at TED. Starting from the observation that at the moment we focus too much on the problems and apocalyptic scenarios, we are constantly turning Martin Luther King’s famous quote »I have a dream« into »I have a nightmare«.

Trying to shift the focus towards solutions, Nic Marks suggests that using the GDP as an index for human progress is not a very good instrument any more, since all around the globe happiness, love, and health are rated significantly higher than wealth when people are asked what matters in life. Thus, he tries to find out what makes life worthwhile and use that for an index of progress: the happy planet index.

Three interesting things I got along the way:

1. Costa Rica

Not only is Costa Rica the happiest country in the world, they also have the best happiness – resources ratio of them all. And they have no military since 1948!

2. Target Visibility

Humans care a lot about the present, the future is always somewhat blurred. Thus, one should make progress (or setbacks) visible immediately. Two measures he mentions are smart meters displaying the cost of energy consumption all the time and reading national carbon emissions over the radio along with Dow Jones and Nasdaq.

3. Increase Happiness

Five very easy things to do to tremendously increase happiness in everyday life are:

  1. Connect
  2. Be active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

Some interesting links:

The talk at TED

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