Have you also seen the exponential surge of Wellness and Wellbeing courses, coaches, workshop, retreats, etc? Even more now after COVID-19 lockdown: The expensive happiness of Europe.
For some who come from the south, we find this extremely weird but also interestingly attractive. Like how can you teach wellbeing if none dare to challenge the status quo of the whole life system: born, study, work 8/24, consume, pay rent, pay kids, retire, die:
Like working out harder to lose weight but keep going to eat kebab every night.
Last month, a study was released about how expensive is happiness in Europe. Yes, it was measured by Mckinsey: The pandemic’s negative impact on well-being in April was up to 3.5 times the losses experienced in GDP; This means, for every euro lost due to the economic burden, 3 euros were lost due to life-unsatisfaction. 1
If you are earning a monthly salary of 2,700 euros, the economic collapse due to COVID-19 burnt out on average 540 euros of that salary, but your life-unsatisfaction burnt out 1,620 euros, leaving you only 1,080 euros left for your life. 1
Yes, the Happiness of Europe is super expensive. If you embed this, into the ecological footprint of every European country, consuming 3 up to 9 countries available resources, or per capita: 2.8 planets for satisfying the European consumer 2, turns out that European wellbeing is a super expensive, exclusive and unsustainable goal, up 10 times more expensive than any other human in the world.
Furthermore, if you consider the high addiction of alcohol and drugs in Europe, 200% higher than in the global south countries 3, you start to draw a better picture of the problem:
Our Expensive, Destructive and Non-sustainable Life-Unsatisfaction for ourselves and the planet.
Now we see funded research, training, certifications, workshops, etc. An army of persons trying to incorporate wellbeing to their everyday life, but at the same time, caught by a complex system based on high consumption fueled by an anxious economy.
As a foreigner in this land, I often face the same feeling when another foreigner goes to my country and I find out that people still buy water in plastic bottles for survival, like:
How is like they don’t know water is for free if you take care of it.
I want to believe that all this wellbeing, wellness and happiness movement in Europe is based in an inside-out transformation for the well of our relationship with ourselves and our planet, but numbers say otherwise, maybe moments of happiness will become another commodity in this accumulation-based society.
What about the World Happiness Report? Even the WHP, where Europe ranks on top, acknowledges this: Industrialized societies relies mainly on GDP and income for their life-satisfaction.
Unlike the Happy Planet Index, where ecological footprint and personal wellbeing become the key components of life satisfaction, countries close to the Ecuador rank on top. One more interesting ranking is the Gross National Happiness from Buthan, you can read more about this amazing concept in a post shared by my friend Jurgen Nagler, UNDP head in Buthan.
In only a few weeks of reduced physical exercise, heightened stress and anxiety, limited access to diagnostics and care are likely to have longer-term health consequences for every European resident, which eventually will turn out in a public health issue and a priority for policymakers.
But how can policymakers design, think and develop wellbeing practical and realistic policies after a long tradition of enlightenment and individual responsibility?
How can governments think not only beyond GDP but activities, incentives and metrics for a mentally healthy society? Is possible a European policy on living happily with less?
Furthermore, how can Europe think about holistic development and personal wellbeing in the middle of a technological war where Europe has decided to stand up and oil the economic machinery as a geopolitical strategy, putting even more pressure to its taxpayers (aka citizens).
It´s an unknown territory where there is no book or manual written, where it´s finally time to open our minds into a more holistic approach on the development, more human and less economical, on how other cultures live more prosperous with less impact in their mental health and the health of the planet. But, is Europe ready for this new era of enlightenment?
After 10 years of working in more than 20 countries across 4 continents, and having a sensitive understanding about what the most satisfying cultures have in common, I have summed up in 3 easy goals: the Humanity Development Goals, an inside-out invitation to think development in a holistic way rather than a single policy intervention:
A topic I will cover into the next post.
Roberto A. Arrucha
I work with Purpose-Driven Organizations & Entrepreneurs in 3 main challenges: 1. Powerful & Meaningful Communication, 2. Income Generation & Marketing, 3. Holistic Leadership.
Director & Founder of The Global School for Social Leaders
1. Mckinsey Group. Report: Well-being in Europe: Addressing the high cost of COVID-19 on life satisfaction: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/europe/well-being-in-europe-addressing-the-high-cost-of-covid-19-on-life-satisfaction
2. Footprint Network Report 2019.
3. Our World in Data. https://www.footprintnetwork.org/content/uploads/2019/05/WWF_GFN_EU_Overshoot_Day_report.pdf