The desire to be happy, live a meaningful life and achieve personal satisfaction is increasingly important to a growing number of people.
In 1776, the fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness was recognised and included in the United States Declaration of Independence. Although it has taken a while, other countries are beginning to pay more attention to the well-being levels of their own citizens – using studies like the Social Progress Index, the Gross National Happiness index and the National Well-Being Index.
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Harvard scientists have called this desire to feel fulfilled part of the rise of the “new incomes”. This means that a growing number of people want more than traditional work-related rewards (e.g. being well paid and health benefits). They are putting a greater value on engagement, fulfillment and life satisfaction (the new incomes). We can see this trend in business, education and other sectors of society.
This focus on well-being issues makes a great deal of sense when we consider our daily lives and some of our experiences. We hear about teenagers facing increasing mental health problems. We read about growing stress levels at work. We are told that the use of antidepressant medication has nearly trebled in 15 years (according to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development data on the UK).
In this context, we can see the connection between people flourishing in their individual lives and increased national prosperity. If people achieve high levels of well-being and satisfaction then our workplaces, institutions and family units will all benefit as health, happiness and performance are connected. However, understanding that we wish to achieve well-being and happiness is different from achieving them.
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