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Are We Really Worrying About the Right Issues?

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e3182461c47
Departments: News, Notes and Tips

In the United States, we are all realistically concerned about our economy. However, in some other cultures, such as the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, happiness is not so intertwined with wealth and economics. “Gross national happiness” (GNH) is an important national goal determined by the Bhutanese. The Web site provided by the Centre for Bhutan Studies ( explains that GNH is based on psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, living standards, time use, community vitality, and good governance.

David Rothkopf, an expert in global economic trends, reports that leaders in Great Britain and France and economists in Columbia and the United States are reevaluating national measures of performance and goals. Economist Carol Graham notes that happiness is a much more complicated concept than economics. Considering that median income in the United States has fallen 7% since 1999, almost 1 in 4 children live in poverty, and unemployment continues to be high,1 this paradigm adjustment may be beneficial to our sense of well-being.

Encouragingly, Graham has gathered data supporting that a stable marriage, good health, and enough (but not too much) income contribute globally to happiness. However, humans are capable of finding happiness in adverse situations. People in Afghanistan report being as happy as those in less turbulent countries. Kenyans report being as satisfied with their healthcare as Americans are. Crime, corruption, and obesity are less relevant to happiness in countries where these problems are common.1

So as we find ourselves struggling with personal and professional economic uncertainty, perhaps we can find encouragement in looking at alternative measures of happiness. Or, as our parents and grandparents used to tell us, “Count your blessings.”

Source: Buscell P. How do we know what our measurements mean? Can happiness and community be quantified? Plexus Institute; October 27, 2011. Available at Accessed November 1, 2011.

Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor at

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1. Graham C. The economics of happiness. The Washington Post. January 3, 2010. Available at Accessed November 1, 2011.
© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.