The most common benchmark when measuring countries is GNP, or Gross National Product, a financial measure of the goods and services created in a country. A nation's GNP reflects the average income of its citizens. Gross National Happiness is a term coined by the King of Bhutan in 1972 to highlight the fact that a people's happiness is what's really important and happiness involves many more aspects than just wealth.
There has been considerable research on finding a metric for happiness in individuals. There was a recent New Yorker article surveying several books that describe attempts to scientifically measure happiness and what increases happiness. One of the books mentioned in this article is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert gave a great talk at TED (see it here) and blasted many myths about what we think will make us happy and what really makes us happy.
So how might all this be put together in a metric for national happiness, or at least national wellbeing? The Genuine Progress Indicator has been proposed as a quantitative measurement of the overall wellbeing of a country replacing, or at least complementing, GNP as the economic measure of its production and consumption. Leading practitioners of the GPI happen to be right here in Canada - at GPI Atlantic in Halifax - and we're fortunate to have Gwen Colman of GPI Atlantic coming to TEDxIBYork to tell us more about this.
I'm a strong believer in the old saw that you succeed at what you measure, so I'm really looking forward to hearing Gwen.