In modern times western society has measured well-being by counting wealth, but it is becoming clear that our aim should be to improve happiness, which is not the same thing. There is a new science of happiness, called positive psychology. The scientists say they can measure happiness, and are starting to find out what makes us happy.
They have measured the happiness of different countries, and the happiest countries are not the richest but the ones with income equality. Denmark is officially the happiest country, followed by Malta, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland and Canada. Countries like Britain and the US that are richer but with very unequal incomes are much less happy.
They can measure whether different life-styles make people happier or not, such as whether rich people are happier than poor. Beyond a secure income of about £15,000 a year, more money seems to bring very little extra happiness.
If we can focus on happiness rather than economic growth we should be able to improve our well-being in spite of having less. We can have life-styles that make us happy rather than rich, and reduce the damage we do to the environment.