EMG Gibbs Optimum Happiness Index (OHI) Project is an exploration of the benefits of Optimum Happiness (OH) as a higher value proposition for human survival as a viable species. The paper focuses on various elements of justification, and the benefits of instituting a Ministry of Happiness (MOH1) and Minister or Happiness (MOH2) as core leadership initiatives (1, 2 to undergird other ministries of government in achieving their national objectives). Findings suggest that the Nation Happiness Index (NHI) of a country is the aggregate of the Personal Happiness Index (PHI) of its people. Hence, every country should institute a MOH¹, and a MOH², vital to a higher PHI, NHI, and World Happiness Index (WHI), which can translate to world peace, prosperity, and security.
The paper also explores new ways to evaluate the natural benefits of happiness for its potency and capacity to transform the lives of individuals, families, communities, and nations, notwithstanding race, color, culture, or religion. It is not investigative of the criteria, or the mechanics for the implementation, which will vary according to the functioning of each country.
A MOH1 and MOH2 ― institutionalized, does not demand vast financial resources, though the benefits can begin immediately, by merely envisaging its potency to transform self and nation. The framers of the U.S. Constitution must have understood, by intuition, intellect, or spiritual insights that happiness is the principal foundation upon which human survival rests. The Declaration of Independence in Congress, July 4, 1776, states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas Jefferson [1743–1826], third president of the United States of America). Retrieved 01 March 2018 from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript.
A broader investigative perspective points to social integration, authentic leadership, and hospitable ecological conditions as three main factors that contribute to the happiness of peoples and nations. Public and private leaders also know that unhappiness is a threat to peace, safety, and the security of nations, as fear and anxiety spread―globally―concurrently, in the postmodern age of “sophisticated learning.” These global concerns have been the impetus to begin to explore the potency of happiness as the “new frontier” of global leadership.
Over the past century, the world has experienced exponential growth in religions, human knowledge, financial and material wealth, and science and technology (Scientific.net, 2017). Governments and corporations rely on technicians, technologists, engineers, economists, scientists, and academics in the fields of psychology, sociology, management, and politics to help create progressive and functioning societies. The popularity of master’s degrees in business administration (MBA), doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, fellowships, and scholarships underpin the postmodern age of sophistication in educational achievement, and management and leadership intelligence.
There are, likewise, many books, studies, articles, and international research projects on the subject of happiness, primarily, as “Happiest Nation” and “Happiest State” polls have become a more significant part of the global conversation about well-being and happiness. Scientific research organizations such as the World Happiness Report 2017, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index 2017, deploy “top-down” investigative models to measure the Happiness Index (HI) of nations.
A myriad of causes of the rising tide of unhappiness among peoples and nations pose a unique challenge to religious and political leaders, educators, academics, social scientists, philosophers, counselors, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Interestingly, many individuals proffered that they alone are responsible for their happy or unhappy lives, but the scientific, experiential, and observable evidence demonstrates that inter-dependent relationships are at the apex of people’s happiness (Waldinger, 2015). This paper puts forward that happiness is a fourfold relationship perspective: (1) personal; (2) interpersonal; (3) transactional, and (4) transformational, and its benefits are universal to all humankind. These four relationships types also play a vital role in every sphere of public and private life.
The paper also puts forward the need for a gross social progress (GSP) index alongside the gross domestic product (GDP) index and gross national product (GNP) index of nations. A GSP index has a higher value proposition than GDP and GNP as a vital measure of the “real” social and economic progress of peoples and nations to underpin their happiness. It provides critical moral and social leadership perspectives to undergird the political and economic leadership perspectives. GSP indicators such as education, career, justice, housing, employment, wage parity, and health care can better inform policy-making directives, consistent with criteria for other performance and productivity and growth indexes such as national stock market indexes.
This additional GSP index better informs the Gini index and the poverty index (PI) of nations. “The Gini index or Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of distribution developed by the Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912. It is often used as a gauge of economic inequality, measuring income distribution or, less commonly, wealth distribution among a population.” Retrieved from GINI (I) INVESTOPEDIA (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gini-index.asp).
The Happiness Index (HI), Personal and National
The present paper proffers that of the three major philosophical eras, premodern, modern, and postmodern, this postmodern period represents the most significant opportunity for leaders in the public and private domains to stem the rising tide of discontent and apathy for leadership, and to foster nations that are happy and productive. This new opportunity for leadership in the community, corporate, and national and international affairs will better inform the Personal Happiness Index (PHI) and the National Happiness Index (NHI).
The paper further calls for a new leadership agenda that places a greater emphasis on “the theory of leadership” underpinned by attributes such as humility, servanthood, transactional, and transformational — people first. These leadership attributes underpin “the theory of management” such as processes, products, tools, and techniques, underpinned by mass production, speed-to-market, and stockholder profits. Therefore, when these two layers of attributes work in harmony, the outcomes are greater than the sum of management and leadership attributes working separately.
Personal Happiness Index (PHI)
Researchers formulate indexes for every known factor, including aspects of the human condition such as height, weight, body mass, learning, and intelligence. Thus, every person has a PHI. The current paper presents ten measurable variables: career, character, education, forgiveness, health, humility, personality, religion, self-esteem, and socialization as the Ten Key Happiness Indicators (TKHI). More importantly, people’s achievements, attributes, behaviors, and customs underpin the TKHI.
National Happiness Index (NHI)
The OECD Better Life Index 2017 identified indicators such as housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, health, life-satisfaction, safety, civic engagement, and work-life balance as salient to the NHI. These essential national happiness measures are indicative of the services that a nation makes available to its citizens. However, a more complex scientific inquiry at the inter-personal, transactional, and transformational levels will better inform how citizens benefit from its nation’s services offerings. The real NHI is a bottom-up measure of the aggregate of a nation’s happy people, but not necessarily, a function of what a country affords its citizens regarding material satisfaction. Likewise, the GSP and GINI indexes mentioned above provide a more reliable measure of the equitable distribution of services among a population.
Happiness exists in the spiritual (joy) and the physical (material) realms of people’s lives. Joy comprehends happiness, but happiness does not fundamentally comprehend joy. Happiness has a spiritual component for people who forgive, hope, pray, and meditate (Miller, 1999). Scientific investigations have also shown the benefits of spirituality to young people during the early stages of development (Miller, 2015). Joy and happiness are manifestations of the totality of people’s well-being, which includes meaning and purpose, family unity, peace and contentment, mental and physical health, and a positive attitude and gratitude for life, underpinned civil society.
Exploring Postmodern Challenges and Benefits to Happiness
Challenges to Happiness
The world is awash in personal wealth: $153.2 trillion in total, according to Allianz’s Global Wealth Report 2015 (Sherman, 2015). Paradoxically, for some, personal wealth grows exponentially, underpinned by fear, anxiety, depression, violence, and suicide. An insightful observer of world affairs and trends may conclude that postmodern “educational sophistication” should blossom into a new era of high civilization that means peace and prosperity, hope and happiness, and a high quality of life, the nature of which, premodern and modern cultures could not envision, though, vastly beneficial for the postmodern culture. Unfortunately, unmanaged problems of the past, such as genocide, wars, racial tensions, and religious conflict, pose a challenge to humankind.
Refugee migration, slavery, wealth accumulation, anti-Semitism, global terrorism, war, health-care issues, and apathy confront public and private leaders in the present. The Millennium Project Global Futures Studies & Research (2012) cited fifteen global challenges to provide a framework to assess the local and global prospects for the survival of humankind in the future. These include sustainable development and climate change, clean water, population and resources, democratization, peace and conflict, global foresight and decision-making, the rich-poor gap, and the status of women.
These challenges of the postmodern world call for new ways to examine public and private leadership, not just through political and economic prisms but also through the lenses of leadership with spirit, presence, and authenticity (Schuyler, 2014). A new public leadership perspective can create leadership solutions that undergird the complex local and global environments to tackle the moral, social, political, and economic problems that postmodern thinkers refer to as “wicked problems.”
“Wickedness isn’t a degree of difficulty. Wicked issues are different because traditional processes can’t resolve them, according to Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, professors of design and urban planning at the University of California at Berkeley, who described them in a 1973 article in Policy Sciences magazine” (Harvard Business Review, Strategy as a Wicked Problem. By John C. Camillus, May 2008 Issue. Retrieved January 27, 2018). The book Poor Leadership and Bad Governance, edited by Ludger Helms (2012), provided a chronology of wicked problems facing leaders in the postmodern era.
The Ecology of Happiness
Public and private leaders have learned by intuition, observation, and practice that happiness is a birthright (spiritual, inherent, and constitutional). More importantly, the goal to elevate and sustain the potency of happiness is a predicate of an “ecology of happiness” that is sustainable. To achieve such an ecology, public and private leaders can foster a broader investigative leadership perspective. This perspective will include the highest democratic ideals (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), underpinned by core human values such as love, hope, peace, equality, equity, the oneness of humanity, and fairness and justice as wellsprings of happiness. Arguably, these values, underpinned by moral persuasion, may come into conflict with the objectives of public and private leaders in executing their civic and private duties.
“In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) describes the happy life intended for man [humankind] by nature, as one lived in accordance with virtue, and, in his Politics, he describes the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry. The Politics also provides analysis of the kinds of political community that existed in his time and shows where and how these cities fall short of the ideal community of virtuous citizens” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). Accessed on January 27, 2018). The acknowledgment of the potency of virtues and happiness can begin the process of transforming the lives of individuals, families, communities, organizations, corporations, and nations.
Attributes of Public and Private Leaders Versus Attributes of Happiness
The fundamental basis for introducing a MOH1 and MOH2 happiness manifesto for nations hinges on the remarkable power that happiness brings to the table of public and private leadership. Arguably, public and private leaders strive to achieve the noble goals of leadership, punctuated by such leadership attributes as visionary, energetic, accountable, mature, fearless, responsible, focused, logical, objective, courageous, strong, confident, rational, persuasive, and scholarly. Suffice it to say, the behaviors of some leaders fall short of the expectations of the citizenry, which can result in mistrust and leadership apathy.
There is a tendency to assume that what qualifies the individual as a leader is his or her position of power, election to an office, or personal attributes such as erudition, charisma, and courage. The head of an organization or institution may imply leadership, but leadership begins with self-efficacy, empathy, humility, and servanthood, as opposed to authoritative management; moreover, with an understanding of the higher purpose of human existence, and the recognition of three principal human limitations such as inherent, societal, and self-imposed.
The attributes of happiness have the potency to help leaders to govern societies better, and still achieve their political, social, and economic goals without diminishing the effectiveness of the core leadership attributes. These transformational “attributes of happiness” include love, joy, peace, hope, empathy, equality, fairness, forgiveness, humility, servanthood, authenticity, gratefulness, thankfulness, and inclusiveness.
When these attributes of happiness underpin the activities of public and private leadership, they also enable the viability of nations.
The present paper hypothesizes that happiness is an asset, and it results in a surplus. Conversely, unhappiness is a liability that results in a deficit in critical measures of human growth and progress, such as religious (spiritual), moral, social, educational, intellectual, material, financial, and physical (human health). (Zoukis, 2014). Wrote that, “recidivism, is a problem of the highest magnitude. Every year we, as a nation, spend over $60 billion on prison systems, a limited portion of which is used on first-time offenders. This is money drained away from early education initiatives, state universities, and other essential social services.” Retrieved from https://prisoneducation.com/prison-education-news/the-cost-of-recidivism-victims-the-economy-and-american-pris-html/.
Higher thinkers like (Helms, Ludger (2012)) seem to say that the attribute the current state of the world to Poor Governance and Bad Management. “According to annual figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], released on Thursday, in 2014 there were almost 60 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) around the globe right now.” “The annual cost of this displacement, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, has now reached almost $100 billion.” The Atlantic magazine, David A. Graham, June 17, 2015 (Global). Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/06/refugees-global-peace-index/396122/.
Finally, leaders know that their role is to create a healthy “human ecology” to foster the “pursuit of happiness” of peoples of nations. The net benefits are happy people, with positive attitudes, self-assured, self-confident, caring, committed, creative, and productive. Paradoxically, massive budget deficits overwhelm most of the advanced nations in the world, compounded by “natural disasters,” and “humanly caused” and “humanly inspired” disasters (http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Budget-surplus/%2B-or-deficit/–).
Writers, Errol A. and Marjorie G. Gibbs are avid readers, inspired researchers, speakers, and mentors. Their journey, which began with their “search for happiness,” led along paths to Optimum Happiness (OH). OH is a “higher value proposition” for human survival as a viable species than our typical notion of happiness. These same paths await on your “journey of discovery.”