Who is more successful?
A person whose life is consumed with working, leaving barely any time for family and friends or a person who, though not a good in working conditions, has still enough quality time to spend with his friends and family.
Obviously the person who spends time with family and friends, and this is what Gross National Happiness (GNH) is all about.
In most countries around the world, a good economy is seen as the sign of development and is measured by calculating the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is basically a grand total of the total expenditure, production and income of the government. It doesn’t take into account the working conditions or well being of its citizens.
But Bhutan came up with a different approach towards development. The country has been using GNH as a measure since 2008.
Unlike GDP, GNH values collective happiness as the goal of governance by emphasizing harmony with nature and traditional values.
GNH stands on 4 pillars :
- Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development.
- Environmental conservation
- Preservation and promotion of culture
- Good governance.
Its target is expressed in the form of 9 domains: psychological well-being, health, time use, education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.
GNH is thus seen as part of the Buddhist Middle Path where, “Happiness is accrued from a balanced act rather than from an extreme approach”. Being a Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan believes that the underlying values of GNH are distinctively Buddhist. As a result the country has become a living example of idealism.
The idea of happiness as a guiding principle for the government reaches back for centuries in Bhutan. The 1729 legal code of Bhutan states: “The purpose of the government is to provide happiness to its people. If it cannot provide happiness, there is no reason for the government to exist.”
The 2010 Gross National Happiness survey of 7,146 people asked them to rate their subjective well-being on a scale of 0–10. The national average was 6.066 for 2010 suggesting a very good level of happiness in Bhutan in spite of it being one of the least developed countries with a very low per capita income.
Taking an example of the holistic approach of Bhutan towards happiness and spirituality, shortened versions of GNH survey are being carried out in the local governments, foundations and government agencies in countries like Canada, Brazil and USA. GNH is also promoted in the United States by a nonprofit organization, Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA) with a mission to increase personal happiness and wellbeing.
Meanwhile, critics have a different opinion, who describes GNH as a propaganda tool used by the Bhutanese government to distract from ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses it has committed.
However, UN general assembly backs Bhutan, urging member nations to follow the example of Bhutan stating that happiness should be the fundamental human goal.
Bhutan may not be the wealthiest country, but it is the least corrupted one and soon enough, abiding by its principles of Buddhism, it will turn out to be one of the top countries in the World Happiness Index.