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Nic Marks

Director, Happiness Works

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Should Governments start to measure what really matters to people - their happiness? Or should they stay out of such a private matter?

David Cameron, UK prime minister, has recently announced that the UK will create a new indicator of National Well-being. He said as much in his TED talk last year and now he is walking his TED talk! This is something we have argued for at new economics foundation for some time - and I also lay out my thoughts in my recent TED book - The Happiness Manifesto. But are we right? Is this a valid aim of government? Or should government just simply stay out of such a private realm? Indeed can government stay out of this realm? Fo example unemployment makes people unhappy but does inflation? Should a government therefore concentrate more on security of jobs than controlling the money supply? What about education - should kids be educated to fulfil labour market requirements or to lead fulfilling lives? So many areas that Governments touch our lives - the economy, the financial markets, health services, schools, local engagement and the built environment. How could they be different - nay better?
DISCUSS ... I would love to know TEDsters views!

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  • Feb 18 2011: To me, the thought that our government, the broader "self" we all might own, cares about our happiness in more than dollar terms and thinks, hopefully, to just ask pertinent questions of us, would be an indication of some expansion of consciousness and therefore of value.

    And, it does remind me of Buddha's reflection that "the root of all suffering, is that of comparison." Meaning to me," are you happy?" being the wrong question. It requires me to compare, pick the numero uno "happy meal" of my life or however recent time period ... and now sort of measure any new event on this fictional scale.

    When I do that, I find myself boxed and judged by me, ultimately paying the price of straight-jacketing my consciousness, suffering the fool in me. Got it all figured so on with the show....

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