I’ve been writing about Happiness for the last week, and discussing that happiness is something a Low Density Lifestyle can lead to.
Last week I discussed what happiness is, and I looked at the relationship between money and happiness.
Bhutan, situated in the Himalayan mountains between India and China, doesn’t win this distinction because of the fact that they are a Buddhist nation.
Instead, they have achieved this honor because happiness is part of their economic and political system.
You see, where other countries measure their success by their Gross National Product, Bhutan measures their success by their Gross National Happiness.
Under the Bhutan Constitution, government programs – from agriculture to transportation to foreign trade — must be judged not by the economic benefits they may offer but by the happiness – the Gross National Happiness – they produce.
“You see what a complete dedication to economic development ends up in,” he said, referring to the global economic crisis. “Industrialized societies have decided now that Gross National Product is a broken promise.”
“Happiness has usually been considered a utopian issue,” the Prime Minister states. “Individual’s quest for happiness and inner and outer freedom is the most precious endeavor, and society’s ideal of governance and polity should promote this endeavor.”
The goal of a Gross National Happiness is not happiness itself, the Prime Minister says, as happiness is a concept that each person must define for himself. Instead, the Bhutanese government aims to create the conditions for “the pursuit of Gross National Happiness, as happiness takes precedence over economic prosperity in our national development process.”
Karma Tshiteem is the secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission, and his job is to quantify and measure the happiness quotient of the country.
Specifically, the government has determined that the four pillars of a happy society involve the economy, culture, the environment and good governance. It breaks these into nine domains: psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance, each with its own weighted and unweighted Gross National Happiness index.
All of this is to be analyzed using the 72 indicators. Under the domain of psychological well-being, for example, indicators include the frequencies of prayer and meditation and of feelings of selfishness, jealousy, calm, compassion, generosity and frustration as well as suicidal thoughts.
Granted, things are slower and much more easy going in Bhutan, so it’s no coincidence that they place a premium on quality of life.
700,000 people live in the kingdom, a country with one airport and two commercial planes, where the east can only be reached from the west after four days’ travel on mountain roads.
Cigarettes are banned and television was introduced just 10 years ago; traditional clothing and architecture are enforced by law and the capital city has no stoplight and just one traffic officer on duty.
But they prefer it that way. And they are interested in spreading their way of life to the rest of the world.
Imagine that. Imagine if the rest of the world measured their success by their Gross National Happiness.
Then my friends, we’d all be living in a Low Density Lifestyle world.