Taking action on happiness requires measuring what matters

I woke up this morning to a discussion on the radio about what makes us happy. The prompt for this is the launch of Action for Happiness, a new ‘movement for social change’ that aims to promote happiness as the ultimate goal of individuals, communities and government policy.

On its website (designed by our whizzy friends at Public Zone), the authors lament that ‘for fifty years we’ve aimed relentlessly at higher incomes. But despite being much wealthier, we’re no happier than we were five decades ago…it’s time for a positive change in what we mean by progress.’

This is a laudable goal, but of course it needs to mean something practically. Action for Happiness propose 10 Keys to Happier Living, including ‘do things for others’, ‘connect with people’ and ‘be part of something bigger’. Its examples of practical action make a lot of sense but it’s difficult not to feel confused about precisely what the end goal is.

Part of the success of using growth in income as our definition of ‘progress’ is that it is easy to measure. Unfortunately, up to now, the same cannot be said of happiness.

That’s what NPC’s Well-being Measure is for. Our work joins the recent efforts of The Children’s Society, the Young Foundation and the New Economics Foundation to measure well-being in different contexts. But what’s different about NPC’s Well-being Measure is that it is practical and developed with the goals and limitations of front-line organisations in mind.

The success of Action for Happiness relies on finding a way of measuring happiness. For young people age 11 to 16, look no further than NPC’s Well-being Measure!


About John Copps

John is part of NPC's research and consulting team and is the founder of NPC's Well-being Measure, a social business that provides an online tool to measure young people’s well-being. He has eight years experience of research and consulting, and is passionate about how data can be used to improve the performance of organisations. John is a regular contributor to NPC's blog and has also contributed to pieces for BBC Radio, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. John is a governor of a secondary school.
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