Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Planet Index: US is 114th

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In an age of uncertainty, society globally needs a new compass to set it on a path of real progress. The Happy Planet Index (HPI) provides that compass by measuring what truly matters to us – our well-being in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives – and what matters to the planet – our rate of resource consumption.

The HPI is not based on economics. But there is also a more subtle and no less damaging aspect to all this focus on personal consumption. People who are strongly motivated by the idea of getting rich and famous are what psychologists refer to as materialistic.

Using an engaging metaphor, psychologist and author Oliver James describes
them as having caught the ‘affluenza’ virus.The scientific evidence for the
negative impacts of materialism is overwhelming; they range from poorer
personal relationships through fewer good moods and lower self-esteem, to
The Happy Planet Index 2.0                                                               

In short, people whose main aspiration is to be wealthy are inclined to be less satisfied with their lives in general than those who focus their energies elsewhere.81 What is worrying, but perhaps unsurprising, is the extent to which materialism is on the rise.

Rich developed nations fall somewhere in the middle o the HPI. The highest-
placed Western nation is the Netherlands – 43rd out of 143. The UK still
ranks midway down the table – 74th, behind Germany, Italy and France. It is
just pipped by Georgia and Slovakia, but beats Japan and Ireland. The USA
comes a long way back in 114th place.

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