Relationships key to a happy life

Relationships matter more to our happiness and well-being than money, education, genetics, and position in society. I have learned this from studies of well-being and happiness in small communities in Alberta including Leduc and Olds. Strong relationships translate into higher levels of trust and ultimately more resilient neighbouhoods and economies.

I believe a good life is a fine balance of happiness and sadness, with less time wasted on anger and worry and more time in loving relationships and hope.

Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest affirms what many of us have known intuitively: that strong relationships contribute to a happy and good life. As director of the longest study on adult life and happiness, Waldinger’s insightful TED Talk profiles what he has learned about what the good life actually looks like. A remarkable 75-year-longitudinal study of a group of more than 740 men has found that strong relationships is the single most important contribution to living a long life.

Relationships aren’t always easy; they can be messy. But the alternative — being lonely — detracts from our happiness. According to Waldinger, 1 in 5 Americans feel lonely.

Waldinger ends with a wonderful quote from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who said:

“There isn’t time — so brief is life — for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. there is only time for loving — & but an instant, so to speak, for that.”



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The Cost of Unemployment and Suicide in Alberta

Suicide vs. Unemployment Alberta






Alberta’s Medical Examiner warned that suicides are expected to jump 30% in 2015 reaching 654 suicides. Is this due to the impacts of falling oil prices and a down-turn in Alberta’s economy?

Alberta’s total number of unemployed is expected to jump by 28% in 2015 with an estimated 143,000 men and women currently out of work in November 2015.

Being unemployed is one of the greatest killers of happiness. People need meaningful work to feel dignified.

How does unemployment impact suicide and what is the cost of suicide to our economy?

According to US statistics for 2013, there were roughly 32 suicide attempts and 226 people thinking about suicide for every suicide completed.

The direct and indirect projected economic costs (e.g. medical system cost, lost productivity) of 654 projected suicides in Alberta in 2015 could exceed $811 million.

Read more about this important subject in the following well-being policy note:

Suicide and Unemployment in Alberta

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Why Forests Matter: The Indigenomics of Forests

Here are the notes from last evening’s (November 4, 2015) Nature Conservancy of Canada forum on Why Forests Matter. Other speakers included Brian DePrato, economist with TD Bank, talking about natural capital, poet Lorna Crozier, Andrea Lyall (Aboriginal forester), Dr. Phillip Miller (with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment), and Dan Krauss, a conservation scientist with Nature Conservancy.NCC imageNCC Why Forests Matter

Why Forests Matter: Indigenomics of Forests

My name is Mark Anielski. I am trained as a forest economist and natural capital accountant. I’m also the author of The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth. For 10 years I taught business ethics, corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship at the School of Business at the University of Alberta.

I’m now going through the 12-step program for economists, after 25 years of practicing economics. It is my work with First Nations in Canada and inspired by the forest that I am only now beginning to recover from the addiction economists, have had with economic growth and money metrics of progress, like the GDP.

It has been returning back to the forest, as my real teacher, and spending time with indigenous elders that I am learning about a new way of thinking about the economy. We might call this indigenomics or what I call the ‘economics of well-being.’

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The real costs and benefits of ending poverty in Edmonton by paying a living wage

Net benefits of paying a $15 living wage in Edmonton
I have the pleasure of serving on the End Poverty Task Force for the Mayor of the City of Edmonton. I completed the following preliminary analysis to the key question: what are the real costs (and benefits) of ending poverty by paying a living wage to those employable Edmonton adults currently working or living below a $15.00 per hour living wage (or what I would call the ‘poor’)?

Caveat: My  analysis should be treated with caution as these are rough and preliminary estimates of a complex subject area.

I ran some preliminary estimates of the estimated full societal net costs of eliminating poverty (if the goal of ‘elimination’ is measured by ‘having enough money to afford basic necessities of life (including shelter, food, transportation)’, which could be defined in terms of ensuring the estimated 100,870 Edmontonians living at or below LIM (Low Income Measure) plus the estimated 103,200 working adults (20 years+) who are earning less than a $15.00/hour living wage.

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What I would advise Premier Rachel Notley on Monday

Some economic advice for Premier-designate Rachel Notley

Take a balance sheet approach to managing Alberta’s assets

By Mark Anielski
Genuine Wealth Institute

EDMONTON, May 11, 2015/ Troy Media/ – If I were sitting with Premier-designate Rachel Notley this morning advising her on the economy and the next budget, I would first recommend that she base her decisions on evidenced-based governance.

But to accomplish this, she must start by gathering the facts.

Notley would have to first start with a comprehensive audit of the long-term sustainability of the provinces natural assets (oil, gas, minerals, timber, agricultural land). The audit would examine the reserves and the remaining years of production of oil, gas, coal and other minerals that remain in the ground.

Alberta’s oil sands reserves contain roughly 168 billion barrels that would be valued at $8.2 trillion based on a conservative US$50 per barrel of oil. At 2013 rates of oil production (2.1 million barrels per day) Alberta’s oil sands should last 215 years.

Second, Notley needs to take a lesson from former Premier Peter Lougheed, who was able to negotiate a higher economic return on oil and gas sales from Alberta’s energy industry. The oil sector currently pays less than a dime on the dollar in royalty payments, whereas during the Lougheed era it paid an average 27 cents and as high as 37.7 cents in 1977.Based on current oil prices at or below $50/bbl the projected royalty payments for 2015 are expected to reach their lowest level in 55 years at below $0.05 per dollar of oil and gas sale. If Notley were able to increase the royalty rate as a percentage of the value of oil and gas sales to 20 cents, still less than during the Lougheed era, our schools and healthcare system could be properly funded without a sales tax, an increase in healthcare premiums or even an increase in corporate taxes.

Alberta royalties 1970-2015

Third, Notley needs to conduct an assessment of the renewable energy capacity available for development, including solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, and other renewable energy options. Alberta has an abundance of sunshine, yet we have the lowest installed solar PV capacity in Canada. Why not consider creating the conditions for a flourishing renewable sector that is as healthy as our petroleum sector?

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