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Gross national happiness in Bhutan: the big idea from a little country that could change the world. 

Gross National Happiness: Development Philosophy of Bhutan

Economists the world over have argued that the key to happiness is obtaining and enjoying material development. Bhutan however adheres to a very different belief and advocates that amassing material wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. Bhutan is now trying to measure progress not by the popular idea of Gross Domestic Product but by through Gross National Happiness.

His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck expressed his view on the goals of development as making “the people prosperous and happy.” With this strong view in mind, the importance of “prosperity and happiness,” was highlighted in the King’s address on the occasion of Bhutan’s admission to the United Nations in 1971.

While the emphasis is placed on both, prosperity and happiness, the latter is considered to be more significant. The fourth Druk Gyalpo emphasized that for Bhutan “Gross National Happiness,” is more important than “Gross National Product.” Thus, Gross National Happiness is now being fleshed out by a wide range of professionals, scholars and agencies across the world.

Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that the rich are not always happy while the happy generally considered themselves rich. While conventional development models stressed on economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of Gross National Happiness is based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

The philosophy of Gross National Happiness has recently received international recognition and the UN has implemented a resolution “…recognizing that the gross domestic product does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people,” and that “…the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.

GNH is a holistic and sustainable approach to development which balances between material and non-material values with the conviction that humans want to search for happiness. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all facets of life which is essential to our happiness. The goal of GNH is happiness. One of several means to achieve this goal is sustainable economic growth. GNH is a unique approach to national and global development.

The concept of Gross National Happiness consists of four pillars:

  1. Fair socio-economic development (better education and health), 
  2. Conservation and promotion of a vibrant culture, 
  3. Environmental protection and
  4. Good governance.

The four pillars are further elaborated in nine domains:

  1. Psychological well-being, 
  2. Living standard,
  3. Health,
  4. Culture,
  5. Education,
  6. Community vitality,
  7. Good governance, 
  8. Balanced time use and 
  9. Ecological integration.


In accordance with these nine domains, Bhutan has developed 38 sub-indexes, 72 indicators and 151 variables that are used to define and analyze the happiness of the Bhutanese people. 

See more at: http://www.gnhbhutan.org/about/#sthash.aLR8tBFM.dpuf

 

 

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