Mappiness: How happy are you?

17 August 2010

The London School of Economics have launched a new research project to better understand how people’s feelings are affected by their environment. ‘Mappiness’ is a free app available for your iPhone; it asks you questions about how you are feeling along with a few simple things like who you are with, where you are and what you are doing…the data is sent back anonymously and used to map happiness across space in the UK.

You may think the idea sounds fun…but wonder why mapping happiness is important?

Well, one reason is that understanding what makes us happy is fundamental to explaining our social and economic progress. Despite increases in GDP in the UK, the well-being of the population has remained relatively unchanged. There is clearly more to happiness than wealth and material well-being. And more and more people are beginning to believe that you can measure it…

Nef, the think-and-do tank have developed a National Accounts of Well-being which examines personal and social well-being across 22 European countries—providing an alternative measure of social and economic progress.

The UK government recognises the need to develop new ways of capturing national progress: one of the shared principles of sustainable development is to ensure a Strong, Healthy and Just Society by ‘…promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion…’

And here at NPC we put a lot of value on measuring changes in well-being. We published a report on measuring children’s subjective well-being back in June-09 and are launching the NPC well-being measure later this year. The tool will provide organisations with a simple, reliable and academically-robust way of understanding the difference they make to young people’s lives.

Measuring well-being offers a vital opportunity to help charities demonstrate and improve their impact and help government and private funders support the most effective services. It can also save government money as understanding and measuring well-being will allow government to invest in preventative systems, potentially saving heaps of money in reactive services.

So if you think there is more to happiness than wealth…and you’re wondering just what it might be…try mapping your happiness…