Jan 18, 2023

Happiness By Numbers – How to measure and manage your wellbeing

Now available from all good bookshops chartered environmentalist (and SHIFT Managing Director) Richard Lupo’s book Happiness By Numbers. In it, Richard draws on decades of expert research to provide a science-based framework that shows how your decisions and actions affect your environment, while measuring your progress towards achieving long-term wellbeing.

What’s the book about?

The book starts from the premise that 100% of all the people on the planet want 100% happiness for themselves and for their loved ones.  If we as a human race want to manage ourselves such that we can achieve this, then along the way we are going to need some kind of meaningful metric of happiness.  The book describes a science-based measure which captures all the important things about what it means to be human:

  • Physical wellbeing
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Environmental protection – because only a safe and protected environment will provide us with our very basic needs like clean air, water, food and safe shelter. We need these to support us so we can all thrive as human beings

Throughout the book the terms happiness, wellbeing and social value are used interchangeably, unless there is a specific reason to not do so.

What’s in the book?

It’s a book of three thirds:

  1. Science of wellbeing measurement – a short history of measuring wellbeing, the actual science behind it and a review of national and international initiatives to measure wellbeing. This part also introduces a Maslow framework for collecting all the meaningful data into one single metric.  It also describes what “good” looks like in numbers.
  2. Where we are now – looks at the most recent data and puts it into the Maslow framework to give a single figure for our long-term wellbeing. Most of the data is UK based (whilst there will be equivalent datasets for other countries, the principles of this blueprint work for everyone on the planet). It also shows you how to “baseline” your own household’s performance.
  3. What to do about it – now we have a UK starting position (and your own if you want it) the next thing is to plug the gap between where we are now and the final goal of 100% long term wellbeing. This includes guides on environmental improvement at a household level and some signposting on mental wellbeing (the book is not and doesn’t pretend to be a substitute for mental wellbeing professionals!).

Who should read it?

  • People in positions of authority – there is a growing need for a meaningful metric of this sort. So if you are in a position of authority, then you can use this book to design and implement strategies to maximise wellbeing for those who you serve.  Think “levelling up”, “placemaking”, “Social Value”, work based wellbeing, the “S” part of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments.
  • Popular science fans – the style of the book is “popular science” and is highly accessible as well as clearly referenced. Measuring wellbeing really is an emerging mega-trend.
  • People who want to be happy and make environmental improvements to their household – hopefully this is everyone! Lots of practical tips to create a great blueprint to lead you and your loved ones to a 100% happy future.

What do people say about the book?

“In a world that centres on GDP and the bottom line, we sometimes forget to think about the things that also really matter to people – like happiness, friendship and a sense of community. Starting with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and with lots of interesting information and statistics, Richard’s eye-opening book sets out the case for a more sustainable future, with some very useful tips, tools and suggestions.” – Sarah Mukherjee, MBE, CEO of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA)

“Richard is a true expert in his field; an original thinker, tackling a topic that most of us worry about, know is really critical for the future of our planet and yet very often just defeats us.  His book is a revelation, it is fascinating, it somehow manages to be both a really good read and a technical know-how book.  It is inspiring and encouraging and the sort of book that you will keep coming back to.

Richard provides practical advice on everyday dilemmas and, for my sector, social housing, the book is an absolute mine field of useful guidance and technical data.  Happiness might sound an airy fairy concept – but once you have read this book, you will realise that it is so much more and if, in the social housing world, our customers were 100% happy, then our job will have been done!

Do read this book, its messages will stay with you for a long time, it will help you in pondering how to respond to the challenge of climate change and it will change your thinking for ever.” – Sue Chalkley OBE, FCIH

“Richard’s book is a must read for sustainability professionals. We’re not a number….and there is more to life than just GDP; happiness.”  – Dr Jonathan Foot BSc, Ph.D, CEnv, FIEMA, MIEnvSc, NDIP

Happiness by Numbers is available for order now from your favourite local bookshop.  Please come along to the book launch event on 27th April 2023, 6pm central London:  Book your place.


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