Happiness and Peace

Today of all days, we hope you have a smile on your face. As the world celebrates the International Day of Happiness, we want to take a moment to consider the relationship between peace and happiness, in particular, the shared objectives of these two commonly misrepresented subjects.

Happiness and Peace

Happiness and peace are intertwined. They are both personal and political; they start in our hearts and go right the way up to the top of the UN agenda for global change.

In the pursuit of happiness, we face the same barriers and achieve the same goals as we do in the quest for peace.

For example, happy societies and peaceful societies tend to have similar attributes that span across social, political and environmental prosperity. Indeed the indices and datasets used to measure “happiness” (often referred to as well-being or progress) use similar indicators and metrics to what we use to measure peace, in particular, positive peace.

If we deconstruct what a peaceful society might look like, we find many of the building blocks of peace are the same as those needed for a happy society. Moreover, countries that are not peaceful, do not have the infrastructure required to become happy countries, and vice versa.

Stop smiling: peace and happiness are serious subjects

Unfortunately for us in the business of research, peace and happiness have been traditionally associated with the euphoric 1960s imagery of hippies, Woodstock and some pretty amazing fashion.

However the times are changing, and increasingly researchers, academics, economists and policy makers around the world are putting measures of happiness and peace at top of their agendas. High level reports and discussion on both peace and happiness are working their way across all sectors, and there is an increasing awareness that traditional measures of success, namely GDP growth, are out-of-date.

Are the statisticians making us happy and peaceful?

One of the groups that deserve recognition for this is the statisticians. Yes, I said it, statisticians. A few decades ago, a group of statisticians took heed of Bobby Kennedy’s age old phrase: GDP measures all but what makes life worthwhile.

This revolutionary group of statisticians recognised that if the leading measure of national progress remained GDP growth, then the pursuit of prosperity would come at the cost of many other important elements of human well-being and development.

What we choose to measure ends up being what we define as success.

With this simple ethos in mind, statisticians began to measure social and environmental wellbeing, and kicked off a revolution in the way we measure human progress and what we strive to achieve.

Today there is an explosion of activity around the world recognising a wide variety of indicators and datasets for well-being, of which happiness and peace are a part. Governments, the United Nations, the OECD, world-leading economists and development specialists are all part of the movement to make happiness and peace the number one universal goal for the future. 

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Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.

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