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