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The Economics of Happiness - Changing the System

13/08/2014 15:10 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 10:59 BST

The Economics of Happiness - Changing the System written by Maite Baron The Corporate Escape Coach

Economics is often called the dismal science because it rarely has much good to say about many things.

But perhaps that's all set to change with the arrival of 'The Economics of Happiness'.

This is a new discipline that tries to work out what makes us happy, rather than leaving experts and academics to decide on our behalf.

And there seems to be growing interest in this new area of economic research. Before 2000, just a handful of papers were being published each year in the academic press on the whole subject of 'subjective wellbeing' (happiness), but now even the Office for National Statistics has begun to collect data on happiness from 200,000 of us every year. And they aren't alone, with organisations in countries around the world doing the same.

The thinking behind this upsurge in interest is simple. If policymakers can work out what really matters to people, then they will - hopefully - make better decisions accordingly.

As yet, no one has come up with any really definitive answers to what makes us happy, but there is one major conclusion that we can draw.

From the national data that's being collected, mostly by developed nations, one thing is clear and it's that increased GDP and higher levels of consumer spending doesn't seem to make us that much happier.

So what does?

Well, that depends on where you come from, judging by results from a research project that surveyed 100,000 people in 70 different countries about what made them feel satisfied with life.

Wherever you live, you would expect health to be one of the biggest determinants of your happiness. For example, we all know how even feeling just a bit under the weather can make us see life from a different perspective, so doesn't it make sense that the healthier we are, the happier we are?

Well yes, but that doesn't mean we value it in the same way. In India, for example, being in 'very good' health is far more important than simply having 'fair' health. That's also true in other countries like Rwanda and the Ukraine. But in Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Morocco for example, the effect of health on happiness is much less noticeable. As yet, no one's really sure why this is.

Income and education are also seen by many of us as important ingredients for a happy life.

However, while in some countries, such as Moldova, Morocco, Georgia and Egypt, there's a very strong correlation between income and happiness, that's much less the case in Finland, Norway, Turkey and Armenia.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of those who are least happy are in countries where life is particularly tough, such as Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.

It all goes to make up the first World Happiness Report published in 2012.

And while such research adds to our global knowledge of happiness, this is only the 'macro-happiness' picture.

Often this level of happiness is outside our control but at a micro-level, the amount of happiness we enjoy is down to each individual and how we perceive the world, the things that we can control - choosing to smile rather than frown, enjoying simple pleasures that bring us peace and calm, feeling positive rather than focusing on the darker side of our daily lives.

Paradoxically, often those who have little seem very happy, while those who have so much seem constantly burdened.

But above all, being happy requires us to embrace life as fully as we can and not be afraid of it.

Double Award winning book, Reader Favorite Gold Award and Nautilus Silver Award Maite Baron Corporate Escape The Rise of The New Entrepreneur

Maite Baron writes at TheCorporateEscape.com where she shares strategies to help you take control of your professional live. To get useful ideas, tips and the latest updates start by download 2 free chapters of Award winning book Corporate Escape The Rise of the New Entrepreneur here