TED Conversations

Ron Gutman

Founder and CEO, TEDx Silicon Valley


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What if we measure our progress with Gross National Smiling instead of GDP?

And, what is the global social, economic, political impact of smiles?

Smiling is an amazing indicator. They show more than just how "happy" we are in a given moment; smiling can actually indicate our overall quality of life, from our sense of well-being, to our relationship success, and even to our health and longevity. Research also shows that efforts to induce smiling are more effective than efforts to create happiness.

Recognizing these benefits, what would happen if we created social priorities around smiling, and used this to measure our progress? Instead of the Gross National Happiness Index used in China, what would happen if we created a Gross National Smiling Index all over the world? What impact could this have on social and economic well being, and the relationship between countries? How could we help bring more smiling, and its associated benefits, to cultures everywhere?


Closing Statement from Ron Gutman

Thank you all for a great conversation. Researching the topic of smiling for my TED Talk and my TED Book has been so amazing because of people like you who have been so engaged in the conversation and in enlightening me about what smiling means to them. I thought that suggesting a GNS (Gross National Smiling) Index as a thought provoking exercise would be a great discussion opener for the meaning and importance of smiling in our lives, and how it can become a vehicle and lubricant for positive change. In conclusion, I'm happy share that it's inspiring to me to see how much energy there is around this topic, and that it seems that people would like to see more focus in our lives on smiling happiness and positivity as measures of "doing well" both personally and nationally :)

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    Jan 25 2012: Well, I think we should simply ask ourselves. What makes us smile now? Connectedness, to ourselves as well as our environment, we could see how we could improve on the social & mental well being of others as friends if not as, an extension of ourselves. We could do the same for our environments on small scales like neighborhood gardens to national scales like, a new monument, Made for the people, by the people. Just a thought. When doesn't charity or good will make others smile, we could create a group or committee made of of individuals from each nation providing to & for each nation on one level or another based on that nations needs. The ideas are as endless as teh people we look to bring smiles to. We need only the will, the way after that, is sure to come.
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      Jan 25 2012: Thnx Bruno! Love your comment :)
      After researching and speaking/writing about smiling for a while now, it's become clear to me that a lot of the benefit that we can get out of smiling come from our own INTENT. Taking a moment to take a deep breath, and a break from the continuous race of life, and simply smile, helps us come back to the here-and-now, and simply enjoy living.
      • Jan 25 2012: My experience after living 5 years in UK and coming back to Colombia (always in the top 10 of happiest countries) is that British have an excellent sense of humour (even better than Colombians) but they donĀ“t enjoy themselves enough. An event in UK that takes out a short laughter in Colombia would escalate into a party. We call it in Colombia "recocha" and it is like a sequence of funny comments as reaction to one spontaneous or deliberate stimulus that escalates into more a more laughter and a very good and relaxing ambience. "Recocha" is a social and witty response that should be incorporated in British and other industrialised countries. In this aspect emergent economies are a good example to follow.

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