The Inner intelligences of the human condition relates to a person’s subjective sense of wellbeing and happiness. The Subjective I is the psycho-emotional-spiritual way I experience the city. The Subjective I feels inspired and uplifted by the personal pleasure of walking down a street lined with cherry blooms, imagining the excitement of expressing ideas, with friends and colleagues, at the community coffee shop.

When I have done research into the subjective sense of happiness, people identify a trajectory of factors that contribute to happiness including: having the simple basics of life, being able to bond with their families, experiencing a sense of personal power or expression, living with others in a way that embraces respect and order, the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families, tolerating diversity while creating the conditions for inclusion in community.

Interestingly these happiness factors seem to emerge as a kind of personal contribution to the “wisdom of the crowd”, where individuals identify one or two of the factors being important to them. However, when we look at the full spectrum of factors we can see the hierarchy of values that emerge from the research of Clare Graves (which focused on how to describe a healthy human being) and has become the trajectory mapped by Beck and Cowan in Spiral Dynamics and by Ken Wilber in the Integral Model.

The value of examining the wellbeing and happiness aspects of the subjective experience of a single life, is that it gives us the container to appreciate the emergent qualities of consciousness. It seems to create a kind of container for me to consider my attention and intention – even my personal purpose – related to this trajectory of inner intelligence. In doing so I open the door into “the examined life” and I gain the capacity to make life worth living precisely because I choose to examine it.

In doing so I can discover that my happiness and wellbeing have ever-widening spheres of consideration. I start with the ego-centricity of focusing on my own happiness (delight at the cherry blossoms). Then I discover that happiness is embedded in the ethno-centric circle of my family, clan and neighbourhood (sharing cherry blossoms with others). When I cross the street away from the cherry blossoms, I experience a wider connection with the city, where happiness embraces the attention and intention I engage through the purpose of my work place, educational and healthcare systems and communities outside my own. Perhaps when I progress from ethno-centric to city-centric experience, I create the platform for an awareness of how my wellbeing and happiness also derives from an intuitive sense of the wellbeing of my city’s eco-region and the planet as a whole (opening into a world-centric sense of wellbeing)? When I contemplate this circle of happiness and wellbeing it often leads to an even more profound sense of happiness and purpose at a deep spiritual level (which has been called by Wilber a kosmo-centric sense of awareness) – where I experience my evolutionary unity with the cherry blossoms.

Ultimately all attention and intention in the city is experienced at the level of the individual. Almost magically, when the coordination of multiple individuals seeking happiness along the trajectory of values aligns, a political will or purpose emerges (the vestiges of hive mind?).

The challenge we now face as a species is not only to define how our individual bio-psycho-cultural-social purpose aligns with the purpose of our city, but how can my personal happiness be balanced in support of achieving my purposes at the same time that others are experiencing and unfolding happiness for themselves?

On the broadest scale, we need to create a life-long learning system that optimizes human potential with appropriate attention and intention. Developing our citizen intelligences will determine the extent to which our cities will be sustainable. To do this in an evolutionarily respectful way, we must design our education system(s) so that it allows individual, family and cultural variation. Such variation needs simple rules that allow

learners to experience learning unique to their potentials (ie. not one size fits all) while at the same time creating citizens able to contribute to the achievement of city, in ways that we can each and all enjoy the happiness that cherry blossoms bring.


Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.(pp. 61-64)

Hoornweg, D., Ruiz Nunez, F., Freire, M., Palugyai, N., Villaveces, M., & Herrera, E. W. (2007). City Indicators: Now to Nanjing: World Bank  Policy Research Working Paper No. 4114.Wills, E. H., Hamilton, M., &

Islam, G. (2007). Subjective Wellbeing in Bogotá (B), Belo Horizonte (BH) and Toronto (T): A Subjective Indicator of Quality of Life for Cities. Bogotá: World Bank. Wills, E. H., Hamilton, M., & Islam, G. (2007). Subjective Well-being in Cities: Individual or Collective? A Cross Cultural Analysis. Paper presented at the Wellbeing in International Development Conference.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.