Other News
1:42 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Seattle council wants you on the ‘happiness team’

The Seattle City Council has unanimously endorsed The Happiness Initiative, reports Sustainable Seattle, an organization that develops regional indicators of well-being and sustainability.

“Measuring the subjective happiness or well-being levels of Seattle residents is an important tool that can help our council make effective policy decisions and can engage our community in conversations about what we really want from life and from our economy,” City Council President Richard Conlin said in a press release.

Happiness measures are being developed in many countries today as policy leaders come to understand that traditional measurements of economic success such as the Gross Domestic Product do not adequately measure the real quality of life in a country, the group said in its press release.

While GDP in the United States has tripled since the 1950s, levels of life satisfaction have remained flat or fallen.

“Happiness is as American as Thomas Jefferson,” says Happiness Initiative co-director, John de Graaf. “Jefferson declared that increasing happiness was the most important purpose of government, but for a long time we’ve thought we couldn’t measure it or improve it through government policy. New advances in the science of happiness have changed that assumption.”

The Happiness Initiative uses an on-line survey to measure well-being. Already, nearly 2,500 residents of Seattle have taken the 135-question survey, which assesses life satisfaction and balance in several key areas of life. 

Sustainable Seattle’s Director of Operations Eldan Goldenberg reports that Seattle residents do well in

  • Social Connection (84 percent)
  • Psychological Well-Being (78)
  • Material Well-Being (73)

… but much less well in their assessment of

  • Environmental Quality (46)
  • Time Balance (43).

“So far, our results come from persons who have taken the survey voluntarily,” said Sustainable Seattle Board Chair Malcolm Best.  “We hope to do a random scientific sampling of the city soon.”

On the Web: Sustainable Seattle