May 10, 2007

Richard Reeves: We make love, not money

Previewscreensnapz002 Richard Reeves has been doing some research into the relationship between the happiness of a nation and its economic richness. The bottom line: those from the richest countries have the highest suicide rates (take Finland as one of the richest in Europe with the highest suicide rate, too).

His thesis, after examining the OECD data (PDF)  on the subject, is that only those who value creativity, the arts, the pursuit of happiness over healthy economies will, in the future, be able to take advantage of the abundance our flattened world is creating. Take the US, for example, the world's richest country, but its happiness ratings beginning to freefall (why then, I ask, is the UK sending teachers there to find out how to make kids happy? ;-)

Reeves is a business writer, the author of the much-publicised Happy Mondays - putting the pleasure back into work, which calls for revolutionary re-evaluation of modern working life. While the OECD report is young, and the research behind it is, too, there are messages on which we can start to build straight away. Education, as ever, is the key to making the difference in the lives of our kids in the future.

Are Scottish youngsters going to be the richest in the world in terms of happiness or the richest in the world in terms of economy? Is there half way house or, is that halfway house what we are in at the moment - not so much half way to teaching and learning towards a rounder child as a half-baked progress towards that?

What about your country? Where are you in the report and what does your education system do to make happier, richer kids?

btw, if you want an antidote to this, head over to the antidote titlepiece to this post: We Make Money, Not Art.


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You should check out Oliver James' latest work 'Affluenza' - well worth a read on a similar theme.

It is quite interesting the way the stats reported our unhappiness in comparison to our comparative wealth.

However, the fact that the richer countries who do perform well on happiness, also have high suicide rates is definitely a bit of a warning to anyone wanting to improve it, perhaps let's just stay unhappy?!

I think it was Nick Bayliss who said that pain and pleasure are one in the same (no more important than each other) and that we are not prioritised to be happy but that we have to learn how to turn around in the face of adversity and learn to ride emotions, good and bad. He also said that 'fear' is the most common root of unhappiness which I thoroughly agree with, and it's usually self-centred!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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