The New Economy of Well-being, By Design, for Alberta
What if Alberta’s economic development strategies were oriented towards enabling the highest possible conditions of well-being that yields genuine happiness and joy?
Are there design features for our cities, communities, neighbourhoods, businesses and our personal lives that would result in the highest possible ‘returns’ to well-being (versus GDP or profits) on investment in the human, social, natural, built and financial capital assets?
Is there a way of measuring well-being impacts and social value from projects and programs of businesses, enterprises, and governments (local, provincial and federal)?
With my colleagues Robert McGarvey, Bill Craig and Dominic Mishio at the Genuine Wealth Institute (and www.genuinewealthinc.com) we believe it is possible to design, build and operate businesses, neighbourhoods, and communities that generate what we all want: a high quality of life, well-being and enduring happiness.
We believe well-being will become the new ‘bottom line’ and the ultimate ‘purpose’ of business, governments, neighbourhoods and communities.
Based on our research and studies of the science of well-being, we know that ‘the good life’ is defined by sufficiency of wealth (material and financial), good health (mental, emotional, and physical), strong and enduring relationships, and ultimately happiness (including spiritual well-being).
Genuine Wealth is both a concept for living and a practical model for operating our lives, businesses, neighbourhoods, and communities.
As a concept Genuine Wealth is a lifestyle by which we live an authentic existence where our actions are aligned with our values. We understand that true wealth is defined in terms of the conditions of life that contribute most to a good and happy life.
Our Genuine Wealth Model 2.0 (copyright 2013) was designed to assist those businesses, neighourhoods, and communities to help them mature into flourishing communities of well-being.
The Genuine Wealth approach begins with a heart-centred examination of our purpose, values, life operating principles, gifts, capabilities and dreams for a good life.
Indeed, we have learned that the word ‘wealth’ is a 13th Century Old English word that literally means ‘the conditions of well-being.’
The Genuine Wealth approach helps you and your organization, neighbourhoods or community measure progress in terms of what really matters to your dreams, optimizes your gifts and ensures that wellbeing is continually being maximized while managing risks to your future well-being.
We believe it is possible to design a community or business/enterprise so that it achieves the highest possible well-being conditions. We appreciate that basic human needs, including clean water, air, good land, affordable housing and good food, are preconditions for the pursuit of happiness and a joy-ful life.
We appreciate that without a sufficient living income or wage, financial anxiety can rob people of their hopes and dreams.
In our own lived experience, we have come to understand the benefits of eliminating debt and mortgages in our lives. We have experienced ‘genuine wealth’ when we have been freed of paying unnecessary interest on our debts giving us the freedom to work less and contribute more of our free time in service to others and our communities.
Indeed Genuine Wealth was formed by individuals who believe in the idea of ‘genuine wealth’ as a life style, including being genuine and actions which are aligned with strong virtues for a good life.
Everyday we try to live according to the principles of genuine wealth including working hard and with a sense of purpose, that our work is contributing to improving the well-being conditions for ourselves, our families, our friends and our community.
We believe a life-style of genuine wealth starts with getting our financial wealth in order by eliminating personal debts, which can be a liability to our happiness. We know how to develop personal and communal and enterprise business plans that can ensure financial resilience for your businesses and your household, maintaining a healthy balance between meaningful work and your personal (and communal) values and dreams of a good life.
In our own experience we have come to learn how to get in touch with our true gifts and purpose for living. We understand what it feels like when we are living a life of purpose; when we experience personal flourishing and flow. It is in these conditions that we experience happiness and true joy.
We appreciate that the science of well-being has found that relationships of trust, reciprocity and altruism are perhaps the most important of our ‘social assets.’ We know how difficult it is to build trust amongst family, friends, neighbours, and work colleagues; and how quickly trust can be lost or damaged. We appreciate the importance of this ‘relational capital’ to our individual and collective well-being. We have become experts in measuring these relational assets, including trust, and how to strengthen these social assets.
We appreciate the importance of natural capital assets (water, air, land and ecosystem assets) to our well-being. Without these natural assets, we would not enjoy material well-being.
Lastly we appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between the four aspects of a human being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. This is based on the Aboriginal model of the medicine wheel, with these four aspects of a person that are driven forward through volition (freewill) and must be continually balanced (and rebalanced).
Finally, we know that the word ‘happiness’ is not simply a fleeting emotion but comes from the Greek word ‘eudaimonia’, which means ‘well-being of spirit.’ Genuine happiness, we believe, comes from experiencing a degree of spiritual joy in our hearts and souls. Maslow suggested that spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment was the highest of human aspirations.