Measuring Happiness

More and more communities in the United States and around the globe are thinking about different ways to measure true Happiness.  The Happiness Initiative offers a short survey based on 9 domains of Psychological Well-Being and assesses the degree of satisfaction and optimism in individual life.  The indicators analyze self-esteem, sense of competence, stress, spiritual activities and prevalence of positive and negative emotions.

Physical Health
Measures the effectiveness of health policies, with criteria such as self-rated health, disability, patterns of risk behavior, exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.

Work/Time Balance
The use of time is one of the most significant factors in quality of life, especially time for recreation and socializing with family and friends.  A balanced management of time is evaluated, including time spent in traffic jams, at work, in educational activities, etc.

Community Vitality/Social Connection
Focuses on relationships and interactions in communities.  Examines the level of confidence, the sense of belonging, the vitality of affectionate relationships, safety at home and in the community, and the practice of giving and volunteering.

Education and Capacity Building
Takes into account several factors such as participation in formal and informal education, development of skills and capabilities, involvement in children’s education, values education, environmental education, etc.

Cultural Vitality and Access to Arts and Culture
Evaluates local traditions, festival, core values, participation in cultural events, opportunities to develop artistic skills and discrimination due to religion, race or gender.

Environmental Quality and Access to Nature
Measures the perception of citizens about the quality of their water, air, soil, forest cover, biodiversity, etc.  The indicators include access to green areas, system of waste management, etc.

Democratic Governance
Assesses how the population views the government, the media, the judiciary, the electoral system, and the police, in terms of responsibility, honesty and transparency.  It also measures involvement of citizens in community decisions and political processes.

Material Well-Being
Evaluates individual and family income, financial security, the level of debt, employment security, the quality of housing, etc.

Workplace Experience
Evaluates employment satisfaction, work-life balance, job conditions, productivity and compensation.

The survey also measures Satisfaction with Life, Positive Affect, and Overall Well-Being.

(source: The Happiness Initiative/Sustainable Seattle)

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