A PLEA FOR NEW NATIONAL GOALS THAT INSPIRE
A 3-min read.
People are of different types, from high achievers to vague drifters. They all benefit from purposeful government, because without purpose and goals, often little of real value results. Goals motivate achievement. Motivated humans can achieve greatness.
The Egyptian pyramids are evidence of unequalled human accomplishment. The pyramid builders probably valued the pyramid as a cultural icon. NASA’s Apollo programme had a man-on-the-Moon goal. The work meant more than collecting one’s pay. Humans can strive in cooperation if goals are well-defined, their challenge is accepted and achievement is by overcoming difficulties, not by winning.
Happiness is the main purpose we have. We need it for our health and well-being. Suppose a government could make a new beginning and wanted happiness for its people. What types of happiness should that government seek? There are four kinds of happiness according to The Happiness Alliance they are: eudaimonic help to others (making a difference; community; altruism; levelling); psychological flow (existentialism; freedom); hedonistic consumption (sociality; acquisition; travel; sport; arts); or spiritual escape and religion.
Although these types of happiness can be produced by government actions, they are too embedded and indeterminate to be planned and budgeted. This is a problem, because precise a priori happiness goals are needed to inspire achievement. Neither wealth nor GDP growth promote the happiness of enough individuals for surrogacy.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation,’ identified many types of satisfaction: physical; emotional; social; psychological and spiritual in a hierarchy cumulating satisfaction from provision. For example, a person won’t be able to satisfy self-esteem needs while they are starving. It is proposed that a government should plan and budget for its people to achieve satisfaction of the needs categorized by Maslow, beginning with basic physical needs, then progressively higher needs, which would be satisfied with cumulating happiness.
What if each of safety, belonging, esteem and cognition was adopted as a programme goal? Could elaboration of Maslow’s goals inspire and prioritise government spending? Please tell someone who could use this approach.
If the donkey knows what is required and the carrot inspires it, no stick is necessary. Sticks don’t drive us these days. Goals are carrots when they achieve happiness.