happy woman on bike
Shutterstock / Rafal Olkis
Biking can make you happier.

Editor's note: We're encouraging Grist readers to take the Gross National Happiness survey, a project of The Happiness Initiative. Then tune back in next week to find out how your results compare to those of the Grist audience as a whole and other survey takers.

The case for happiness

Happiness small
Susie Cagle

It’s clear to those who’ve been paying attention that our current economic behaviors are on a collision course with the earth’s limits. We are now using resources and generating wastes at rates 40 percent higher each year than can be sustained. If every country on earth were to consume at U.S. levels, we’d need five planets.

Part of the problem is our current metric for societal success: Gross Domestic Product, or the market value of goods and services produced in a given year. The United States has the largest GDP of any country in the world, and orthodox economists would argue that our massive GDP makes the U.S. the most successful country in the world. But the facts tell a different story: