Friday, May 8, 2009

the kingdom of bhutan

good morning, friends!

have you heard of the kingdom of bhutan? in the himalayas? it's that little country right above india and below china.

well, recently i learned that bhutan measures their Gross National Happiness, which is "an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product," (quote via here) and that idea just really struck me. it's a way for them to live in harmony with their religion (they are the only country in the world where a tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion.) the government believes that the happiness of the people in bhutan is more important than their economic growth and development, and that one can't thrive without the other.

"while conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be 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 four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance." (from wikipedia)

i can't help but wonder how using this as a governing principle in my country, the usa, and other countries would shift the world. or what about just using it as a personal governing system? what if our happiness was more important than our bank accounts? what if happiness was more important than being right, or being the most powerful? i like the idea of measuring my own progress by my happiness, rather than the size of my bank account or my "big accomplishments."

if you'd like to learn more about bhutan and the gross national happiness, you can find some some good websites here, here, here, and here, and watch a great video right here.

*have a fantastic weekend! i'll see you on monday.* :)


  1. I took an ecotourism class last year and one of the case studies we looked at was on Bhutan. It really has an impact on me too. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our government adopted this principle? Well, that may not happen, but at least we can adopt it ourselves. The other thing I thought was wonderful is that it has been a monarchy for a very long time, but the king decided they should become a democracy, so he gave up his power. Awesome, huh? Thanks for the reminder about this!

  2. This post is really speaking to me today! I think I needed a reminder that happiness is the true measure of a good life. I've let the slow sales of my art make me feel that choosing to be self employed was a bad idea. Where as how can it be when I feel happy and blessed to be able to create, play and build everyday.

    Thanks to you and Bhutan for reminding me :)

  3. I read about this too. I think it's a great idea. A whole country seriously devoted to the happiness of it's people. Amazing. How great would our country be, if we did that?

  4. Wow, that is so powerful! Devotion to happiness- I really love that.