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Gross National Happiness: The 10 Principles

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President Obama's State of the Union address did not include what I consider the essential principles for living a vibrant and healthy life. Here are nine objectives for sustainable living that nurture and foster human happiness and, more importantly, make time to enjoy life:

  1. Psychological well-being

  • Physical health
  • Time or work-life balance
  • Social connection and community vitality
  • Education
  • Access to arts, culture and recreation
  • Environmental quality and access to nature
  • Good governance
  • Material well-being
  • According to a survey provided by, we are not in tune with ourselves or our resources. We are dwindling our time and energies through our co-dependence with money. If you look at the potential of countries like Bhutan, whose former King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 declared happiness to be the main doctrine of his country's goals and achievements and compare that objective to countries whose goals are gross national profits tied to the WTO, something seems grossly out of balance; what about a reward for the workforce that created the profit? But that's not the way it works in the world. America is now a frontrunner in the world economy wearing Nikes made in third-world countries.

    We use to be first until we shipped jobs overseas. We bought technologies and let other countries sell them back even cheaper. We are fast becoming a country that is for sale.

    Like most people, I worry about money. I worry about social security -- not the check I will receive when I'm 65 but the principals from which the money was grown. I'm superstitious about fast money. I'd rather grow old, slowly, knowing my investments are fostering people who are creating green technologies, family farms, clean energy, education and supporting the arts.

    A culture whose children cannot graduate from high school and who mistake graffiti for art is an indication of what the average intelligent quotient will bear on its society. It's a gross national failure that our government places its priorities elsewhere.

    The President said, "We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world." Is this the new American Dream? Or was he posturing new realities using old American ideals to win the future?

    Getting the workforce stabilized to create more inefficiencies, greater dependence on government means less independence, more taxes accrued and more needed.

    Americans need and want the opportunity to contribute. They want to share ideas that build economic strength and stability. And more importantly, they want to truthfully legitimize the reasons for the horrendous debt that will be passed down to their children and their children's generation while fearing future entitlements might only include a family membership to Costco.

    On the issue of deficit reduction, President Obama called for a spending freeze that would save $400 billion over the next five years; simplifying the tax code; a $100-billion cut in Defense spending, which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has supported. Who can even begin to fathom the true cost of defense spending, let alone the precious loss of human life.

    Calling this point in American history a "Sputnik moment," President Barack Obama asked both parties to focus on competing with the rest of the world, pointing to areas where we have fallen behind, pushing Congress to approve recent trade agreements with China, India, and South Korea that would support 320,000 American jobs.

    But are those jobs going to add any value to our perishing and dwindling resources? Set examples for greater environmental protection and stewardship? Create opportunities for sharing an enriched and enlightened global economy that places value on its citizens and not the material things they create?

    I had a great idea this past Christmas. I thought, wouldn't it be nice if I just took all the things I have purchased over the years, made in China, and just shipped them back as gifts to residents in Hong Kong or Bejing, with a card saying, "We don't need any more of your stuff, so have a Merry Christmas." Now that's a great trade agreement.

    If we were once the nation that led the world, then let's start leading in the right direction. And when it comes to your happiness, you don't need a fortune teller or an astrological projection to tell you that your stars are not in alignment.


    Check out the nine principles for a sustainable life here.

    Also, learn more about The Healthy Money Summit.

    Be sure to listen to Woody Tasch, author of "Slow Money," and John Degraaf, author of "Whats the Economy For Anyway?"

    Oh! And I want to add one more objective to that list.