UK Launches Nationwide Well-Being Index

Tony Rollinson
Tuesday, 26th July 2011

The UK Government’s ‘happiness index’, which looks at what is happiness, is seeking to measure how the country is doing in ways other than just GDP. This is an approach which permaculture has valued and stressed for many years.

A survey of over 34,000 people by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that people in the UK believe their well-being should be measured in terms of health, family and friends and job satisfaction. On the face of it this may not seem like rocket science, but the fact that we are seeing individuals evaluating their happiness beyond that of mere finance is something to be seen as a shift in consciousness.

Other themes to emerge from the debate were economic security, education, training and significantly the present and future conditions for the environment.

Aileen Simpkins, who is working on the ONS's national well-being programme, says: "Our sense of national well-being, has got to include equality, it's got to look at the distribution of good and bad experiences between different groups of people and it's got to look at sustainability ... and there's also something about locality - things that you can find out about local areas, like access to green spaces and the sense of community cohesion."

The survey is a significant piece of research, the numbers of people involved are impressive. It is interesting to see the Government working with such organisations as the Centre for Wellbeing and the New Economics Foundation. It is a hope that the work of permaculturists will be seen offering a valuable perspective. Just take a look at the latest issue of the magazine, Permaculture 69, and you will see all of these issues being explored in various ways.

Useful resources:

CD The Happiness Training Plan: Practical strategies for a happier life from the new science of positive psychology which is presented by the highly respected Dr Chris Johnstone & Miriam Akhtar is a helpful starting point that presents practical steps to help you to greater happiness.