Can you measure happiness? Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative thinks so. In association with HappyCounts.org, it is releasing the first comprehensive survey of happiness in the Kearsarge region, as part of the Community-Based Research Project class at Colby-Sawyer College.
“This survey is comprehensive and based on what is important and relevant to our lives,” says Harvey Pine, Andover resident and a professor at Colby-Sawyer College. “Other indicators are too narrowly focused and offer only a snapshot, with no backstory. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator fails on many levels; fluctuations up or down rarely impact my day-to-day life, and GDP simply does not correlate with my reality. Work/life balance, for instance, is a metric that has meaning and is a true indicator of my quality of life.”
“I am excited to launch this survey to be able to gauge where our communities stand with regard to the nine domains of happiness,” adds Jon Wylie, a student member of the Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative. “This will allow our group to analyze the results and develop specific projects and strategies in towns that have the potential to increase well-being in a domain that is lacking. In this sense, we will be increasing the overall happiness of the Kearsarge region.”
The survey is now online at KearsargeTransition.wordpress.com. Anyone age 18 and older may take the survey and receive an immediate evaluation of personal well-being for each of the nine domains of happiness identified by international researchers:
- Psychological well-being
- Physical health
- Time balance
- Work experience and education
- Cultural vitality and access
- Social connection
- Good government
- Environmental quality and access to nature
- Material well-being
The survey takes a holistic approach to well-being and asks poignant questions that allow reflection and insight. “It takes about 12 minutes to complete,” says Ryan Bernstein, a student at Colby-Sawyer College. “But you’ll find it’s worth the time, because it really makes you think about your life and how to improve it. It’s part of an exciting new effort to add quality of life and sustainability to our assessments of progress.”
The Kearsarge Transition Initiative is seeking other partner organizations that will encourage members and staff to take the survey and use the results to improve their own internal well-being practices. More information on the entire project can be found at KearsargeTransition.wordpress.com.
The survey was developed by a team led by San Francisco State University’s Dr. Ryan Howell, who says that “when you take into account both time efficiency and comprehensiveness, I firmly believe this is the best well-being survey out there anywhere. Individuals, organizations, academic institutions, and governments can all benefit from using this survey.” A representative sampling of Americans has been taken to provide baseline data so communities and individuals can compare their results. Each survey-taker receives a personal score, comparing the taker’s well-being in each of the ten domains with a national average score.
To learn more and get involved with Kearsarge Transition Initiative, e-mail Transition.Town@nullColby-Sawyer.edu and sign up for timely updates.