Gross National Happiness

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey. ©NTPL/John Miller

Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced plans for a wellbeing index, to measure not just our material standard of living, but also our quality of life.

Horner Wood, Holnicote Estate, West Somerset. ©NTPL/Paul Wakefield

There is increasing interest in this subject, shown for instance by the initiatives flowing from the 2007 Beyond GDP conference. As early as 1972 the King of Bhutan announced that his government would promote Gross National Happiness as well as Gross National Product.

The Temple of Apollo at Stourhead, Wiltshire. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

The National Trust has been in the ‘happiness business’ from its inception in 1895. The founders of the Trust wanted to protect places of natural beauty and historic interest not just for their intrinsic value, but also for their capacity to provide solace and joy.

View of Dordrecht by Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), at Ascott, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The universality of these aims has ensured that they are still relevant today. And it is beauty that unites the appeal of the otherwise very diverse National Trust properties, which include nature reserves, areas of farmed countryside, stretches of coastline, historic houses, gardens and collections.

Stocktons Wood at Speke Hall, Merseyside. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

People will always argue about what constitutes beauty, but the capacity to derive enjoyment and sustenance from it, whatever its form, seems to be common to all mankind.

Bodnant Garden, Conwy. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

May I wish you a happy new year,  indexed or otherwise.

6 Responses to “Gross National Happiness”

  1. p gaye tapp Says:

    Emile- a perfect way to entice us all to visit in the coming year. the photographs are perfect-All. thank you for enriching my year. Gaye

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks, Gaye, for your kind words, and for your inspirational blog.

  3. Toby Worthington Says:

    Emile, may I echo what Gaye has written? If ever there was a blog that
    enriched and entertained at the same time, it is yours. Many thanks.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Toby, thank you so much, that spurs me on.

  5. le style et la matiere Says:

    A very happy new year to you, Emile, who help to spread beauty and often smiles with every post!

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thank you – beauty and smiles, an ideal combination :) Happy new year to you too.

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