Articles

Publish at September 20 2022 Updated September 20 2022

All in search of the happiness economy

As long as it does not become an injunction

How do you know when an economy is thriving? In general, experts will look at the gross domestic product (GDP). However, this only notes trade and earnings. It does not indicate anything about the emotional state of a country. Indeed, an excellent GDP can hide exploited workers, more or less pleasant living conditions, a degraded environment, etc. Consequently, other experts have tried to take the pulse of the population and to estimate the general happiness. An approach that does not come from nowhere.

Whistling while working

Martin Seligman is the father of positivist psychology. The basic idea is that happiness leads to happiness. By putting people in a positive context, they themselves will be won over by the atmosphere, surpass themselves, exult and "contaminate" others around. This was all it took for an incredibly popular industry to emerge, that of personal growth. Thus appeared coaches and speakers to sow the missing seed of positivity in many of us. Arte has made a very interesting documentary about it.

Some people have been inspired and have decided in this vein to think of the "happy economy" or the economy of happiness. For them, it is important that professional environments offer contexts where everyone feels good. Moreover, many studies have shown how much productivity increased among employees and gave more of themselves to the company. A rather logical finding that, nevertheless, reversed a crude trend in administration to lead by fear.

When GDP drops, happiness drops and vice versa. In addition, nations have aimed to put the well-being of the population first. Bhutan, for example, has relied heavily on a healthy environment, decreasing poverty, etc. Thus, it is one of the few countries with a negative carbon footprint and has adopted strict measures on tourism to preserve natural and urban areas. National economic development has been steadily progressing for decades.

The tyranny of happiness

However, as the Arte documentary reminds us, this injunction to happiness and self-improvement can have its dark side. Indeed, how to quantify happiness? It is a very personal impression. Everyone, moreover, has their own interpretation; thus, it seems difficult to attach a global definition to it. Yet these repeated prescriptions from coaches, influencers, family members and now bosses can weigh heavily on individuals. Some sociologists call the phenomenon "happycracy" so much so that this industry encourages us to be positive.

What's more, it's fine to want to be positive, but when the world around you is not so good or when a recession begins, it's hard to keep a cheerful attitude. In fact, research by Australian researchers has shown that this relentless pursuit can lead people to brood when they don't feel well. A sense of guilt overcomes them since this negative bubble will, according to personal growth players, only lead to failure. The industry also tends to promote the idea of "detoxing" from bad thoughts. For example, some psychologists almost note in patients orthorexia nervosa where they do everything to get rid of it, sometimes in unhealthy ways.

Providing a caring context

In fact, for many mental health experts, it would be better to focus on self-care. Rather than feeling guilty about emotions of sadness or anger, embrace them and put your energy into things that feel good for everyone: a dive into a good novel, a country walk or a video game session. This means, for companies, providing an environment that offers both a satisfying salary and working conditions that allow employees to thrive.

Not to mention that a country can have economic indicators in the green without individuals experiencing joy. Despite decent numbers at the end of 2021, Americans felt strongly unhappy.

Much more so than other nations like Finland, which rely more on caring and togetherness. Indeed, the Scandinavian country invests heavily in initiatives such as the "baby box", some 40 items for new parents to get their parenting off to a good start. The Finnish government has decided that from September 2022, parental leave will be increased for fathers. Now, these initiatives are part of a collective goal. Finns pay a very large share of taxes every year. What if happiness also resided in public bodies that took care of their people?

Photo credit: en.depositphotos.com

References:

Almeida, Jade. "The Obsession With Happiness In The West Or The Limits Of Personal Development." Jade Almeida. Last updated June 14, 2022. https://www.jadealmeida.com/index.php/2022/06/14/lobsession-du-bonheur-en-occident-ou-les-limites-du-developpement-personnel/.

Baril, Hélène. "Paying De L'impôt, Le Bonheur!" La Presse. Last updated: March 28, 2022. https://www.lapresse.ca/affaires/economie/2022-03-28/planete-economique/payer-de-l-impot-le-bonheur.php.

Brault, Julie. "Et Si Le Bonheur Des Uns Faisait Aussi Le Bonheur Des Autres?" LesAffaires.com. Last updated: March 31, 2022. https://www.lesaffaires.com/blogues/le-courrier-des-lecteurs/et-si-le-bonheur-des-uns-faisait-aussi-le-bonheur-des-autres/631971.

Bris, Arturo. "Happy People, Happy Economy? Moving Beyond GDP in Measuring Economic Success in 2022." I by IMD. Last updated: January 10, 2022. https://iby.imd.org/competitiveness/happy-people-happy-economy-moving-beyond-gdp-in-measuring-economic-success-in-2022/.

Brooks, Arthur C. "How to Be Happy in a Recession." The Atlantic. Last updated: September 12, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/07/us-recession-economy-happiness/670974/.

Burke, Jolanta. "Why the Pursuit of Happiness Can Be Bad for You - and What You Should Pursue Instead." The Conversation. Last updated: February 22, 2022. https://theconversation.com/why-the-pursuit-of-happiness-can-be-bad-for-you-and-what-you-should-pursue-instead-176838.

Cornwall, Gail. "The Problem with Positive Psychology: When the Pursuit of Happiness Turns Toxic." Salon. Last updated: April 23, 2022. https://www.salon.com/2022/04/23/the-problem-with-positive-psychology-when-the-pursuit-of-happiness-regresses-into-positivity/.

"Happycracy: How The Happiness Industry Has Taken Control Of Our Lives." TV5MONDE. Last updated: December 24, 2021. https://information.tv5monde.com/info/happycratie-comment-l-industrie-du-bonheur-pris-le-controle-de-nos-vies-257808.

Hiltzik, Michael. "Column: The Biden Economy is Booming. Why Aren't Americans Happier with It?" Los Angeles Times. Last updated December 15, 2021. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-12-15/the-biden-economy-is-booming-why-arent-americans-happy.

Hivert, Anne-Françoise. "Finland, The Country That Invests In Happiness." Le Monde.fr. Last updated March 7, 2022. https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/03/07/la-finlande-le-pays-qui-investit-dans-le-bonheur_6116417_3210.html.

Loknath Sharma, Lyonpo, and Ratnakar Adhikari. "What Bhutan Got Right About Happiness - and What Other Countries Can Learn." World Economic Forum. Last updated: October 25, 2021. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/10/lessons-from-bhutan-economic-development/.

McGuirk, Lucy, Rosemary Kingston, Peter Kuppens, and Brock Bastian. "Does a Culture of Happiness Increase Rumination Over Failure?" ResearchGate. Last updated July 2017. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318474791_Does_a_Culture_of_Happiness_Increase_Rumination_Over_Failure.

"New Study Shows We Work Harder when We Are Happy." University of Warwick. Accessed September 16, 2022. https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/.


See more articles by this author

_____________________________

_____________________________

payhip

Access exclusive services for free

Subscribe and receive newsletters on:

  • The lessons
  • The learning resources
  • The file of the week
  • The events
  • The technologies

In addition, index your favorite resources in your own folders and find your history of consultation.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Add to my playlists


Create a playlist

Receive our news by email

Every day, stay informed about digital learning in all its forms. Great ideas and resources. Take advantage, it's free!