Happiness and economics

Happiness and economics

Being a coaching psychologist my main interest is people (and their happiness); as such, it’s not often I read the financial pages of the paper although there is a Sydney economist whose writings have interested me for several years now…and he’s just released a book called “Gittinomics”!

Ross Gittins has, for quite some time now, combined the necessaries of economics with the fascinating world of happiness and positive psychology. And in a review of his own book just a week or so ago he made some interesting and thought provoking comments.

Consider these:

– sensible people don’t “maximise” the material aspects of their lives they “optimise” them

– that is, they balance material objectives against other, non-material ones (such as fairness, social equity, spirituality etc.)

– most of the things capitalism offers us, he writes, are good – provided we don’t over do them

– the problem is much of the system in which we live pressures us to overdo them (think advertising and marketing and the ready availability of credit and debt)!

Ultimately, Gittins proposes a humanistic version of economics in which he supports capitalism and growth…but not at the expense of our health and happiness. Optimistically, he believes we can have both as long as we accept that happiness and wellbeing have some value, and that slower economic growth is not so bad!