Electing to be Happy
In 1729, the Bhutanese government proclaimed, “if the government cannot create happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for government to exist.” Today, the country has progressed to measuring well-being amongst its citizens, using a sophisticated index dubbed Gross National Happiness (GNH) to fuel more than its countrymen’s pocketbooks, but their hearts, as well.
To find happiness: Hold Still
Nested between two of the continent’s giants, India and China, it’s possible to think Bhutan has found a way to manage its borders against these huge population shifts or jetted into the future to mine its natural resources. Yet, the internet only became available in this remote Buddhist nation in 1999, and still this tiny country, the size of Maine, offers a shitload more wisdom than most Western nations.
And Look Inward
While most governments measure the health of their countries using Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Bhutan, according to the nation’s own GNH website, has found that true happiness comes, “from serving others, living in harmony with nature, and realizing our own innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds.” Measured through a series of surveyed questions in nine domains, including education, health, and community vitality, the GNH seems to demonstrate what so many of us have known in our hearts for so long: it’s not just about money.
The goal: Fuel happiness
And while Bhutan struggles with being one of the poorest nations in the world, one cannot argue that its struggles are caused by some of the wealthiest. Because our society, and so many others, is one of want, not one of need, we are creating a world where our desires are impacting the happiness of others through climate change and mass consumption.
Instead, could we take less and give more? Could we give our precious time, our service, and maybe even a little of that cold hard cash to make meaningful change? And maybe, in doing so, we’d fuel even more happiness in our own homes, and better yet, around the world.