Vermont and Bhutan have embraced happiness rather than GDP as a measure of social success. The world’s happiest countries share surprising characteristics – a small gap between rich and poor; work-life balance; urban design favoring community over cars; high degrees of interpersonal trust; a strong social safety net, and the highest tax rates in the world.
You probably missed it, but April 13, 2014, marked the third annual Pursuit of Happiness Day. April 13 just happens to be the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote those famous words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” into our Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson and other American revolutionary leaders including Washington, Adams and Franklin all believed that the main purpose of government was increasing the happiness of its citizens. They said so on many occasions. But the idea of government promoting happiness or its corollary, “wellbeing,” is more often derided in contemporary politics – “social engineering,” some call it.