Nic Marks is one of the world’s leading thinkers, writers and doers on happiness and wellbeing, having co-created the Happy Planet Index, Five Ways to Wellbeing and Happiness Works. He’s also an inspiring speaker and has given a series of popular TED talks. In this blog post, NOW’s Dr. Larch Maxey introduces an exciting talk by Nic Marks, which NOW will be co-hosting with Exeter University, at 6-8pm on Tuesday 9th May, 2017. For full details and to book your free ticket click here, and let us know you are joining the event on Facebook too!
Wellbeing as a common purpose
Nic notes: “Much of modern life is based upon a false logic, a logic that assumes that happiness and wellbeing come from financial prosperity. Thus most politicians – and most of our mainstream media – appear to assume that the main goal of government is…the pursuit of economic growth.
“There are two main reasons why this assumption is wrong. First, once basic material needs have been met, there is very little evidence that pursuing financial prosperity generates much extra happiness for individuals or for nations. Second, by blindly pursuing economic growth, we are creating a whole set of social and environmental issues that will undermine the potential happiness and wellbeing of future generations.
“It is time for us to imagine a different future; a future where nations and people can again share a common purpose.”
Happy Planet Index
One way Nic has helped to create this common purpose is through the Happy Planet Index (HPI), the first global index of sustainable wellbeing. Nic explains that it, “measures the ecological efficiency of delivering wellbeing. It shows that good lives do not have to cost the Earth.”
Whilst the HPI is a great step forward by introducing wellbeing targets beyond just using GDP, Nic recognises that it, “does not measure everything. Many of the high ranking countries are tainted by human rights issues and rising inequalities. It also does not directly account for other important environmental issues such as soil erosion, deforestation or species loss."
Nonetheless, HPI still serves a very important purpose, as Nic highlights: "What the HPI does well is to suggest the need for a change of direction for most nations.”
The social benefits of happiness
This leads us to ask how do we actually change direction in the way the HPI demonstrates that we should? Nic responds by suggesting that we should take happiness more seriously at all levels of society. He says, “happiness is not only an important goal in its own right, but it is also part of our adaptive evolutionary nature – helping us respond to any challenges we face.
“Effectively, our emotions are central to our evolved survival mechanisms; they are an essential part of the way we adapt to changes in our environment by facing challenges, approaching opportunities and solving problems.
"But there is another reason why it is important that we focus on happiness: it turns out that happier people are healthier, more successful and critically more generous.
"So, happiness is very dynamic in that our actions, our feelings, and our skills all build on each other. It is good for us and it is a classic social good, as it provides not only personal benefits but a cascade of social benefits, too. This is why happiness is not only a worthy goal for people and nations; it is also the key to how we will be able to develop creative solutions to the challenges we face.
“We need to stimulate people not to run away from climate change and sustainability. Instead, we need people to engage with these issues, to have compassion for other people and species, to be open and flexible about some inevitable changes, to be creative and innovative about creating solutions. I think it is by understanding the nature of our happiness that we will start to make the great transition to a world we all want; a world where happiness does not cost the Earth.”
Learn more at Nic Marks’ talk in Exeter on 9th May!
On 9th May, Nic will be exploring these and other ideas at a talk at Exeter University. We are co-hosting this event to raise awareness about the growing evidence on how we can improve happiness and to highlight how we can all work within our communities to raise our own wellbeing and that of those around us, whilst supporting wider positive change. If you would like to join us for this talk, please book your place here.
We are planning a series of these public events so if you have a suggestion for a speaker that we could co-host, or if you would like to work with us to host events in other towns in the future, please get in touch!
Building Wellbeing Together
Nic Marks will also be giving one of the keynote addresses at NOW’s exciting Building Wellbeing Together Weekend at Hawkwood College in September of this year (get your early bird tickets today!). The Weekend will also feature talks by Chris Johnstone and Katherine Trebeck, as well as as a host of amazing workshops.
Quick links to get involved and stay connected!
- Book your place at Nic Marks talk in Exeter on 9th May
- Facebook event for Nic Marks' Exeter talk
- Find out more about Building Wellbeing Together Weekend
- Book an early bird ticket at Building Wellbeing Together Weekend
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