The measure of happiness: Bhutan shows the way

The measure of happiness: Bhutan shows the way

Once upon a time it was little more than a hazy dream. Now, Bhutan_ã_s happiness index has taken concrete form _ã” and drawn interest from governments around the world.

A small Himalayan monarchy with a population of 700,000, Bhutan leads the planet when it comes to measuring the mood of its people. Its government believes there are better ways to gauge a country_ã_s progress than blunt, one-dimensional indicators like Gross Domestic Product. With support from Canada_ã_s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and a Nova Scotia-based research organization, Bhutan has been developing a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. This innovative statistic emphasizes social well-being and cohesion, rather than activities that can be calculated only in narrow financial terms.


Tiny Bhutan as global trailblazer


It started during the reign of Bhutan_ã_s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1972_ã_2006) who believed strongly that _ã–Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product._㝠 He imagined a Bhutan that would grow sustainably, incorporating social, cultural, and environmental values _ã” guiding principles that dovetail with the country_ã_s dominant Buddhist philosophy. 


During the years that followed the king_ã_s observation, GNH remained little more than an aspiration, an intuitive understanding that material development alone is insufficient to ensure national well-being. Meanwhile, Bhutan emerged from its relative isolation, and the country embraced new road and air routes, mobile phone links, cable TV, and the Internet. These signposts of globalization only strengthened the government_ã_s determination to protect Bhutan_ã_s unique culture.


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