Happiness is what everyone wants in their life. We all always strive for happiness, and one of the main goals of our lives is to be happy. So what does it usually depend on? And is it possible to measure it? One small, but very interesting country has answers to these questions. And this is Bhutan – the happiest country in the world!
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia, located in the Himalayas between India and China. Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion of the country, and over two thirds of the population are Buddhist. It should be noted that the official religion of the country has a major impact on the country policy and the features of its management.
Bhutan has incessantly been ranked as the happiest country in all of Asia, and one of the happiest countries in the world according to Business Week. It is the only country in the world to measure success not by economic growth but by gross national happiness (GNH). It measures people’s quality of life, and makes sure that “material and spiritual development happen together.”
The government of Bhutan has a belief that a society’s happiness should be measured not only by its material indicators but also by the health, education and the contentedness of its population. The idea of gross national happiness was developed by Bhutan’s previous monarch, the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Everything – from governance and economic development to cultural preservation and environmental conservation – is decided according to this holistic tenet, designed to measure and protect the collective happiness and well-being of the population.
But how does the country measure happiness and what does their philosophy look like?
The philosophy has been expanded into a guiding principle based on four central pillars – equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment and promotion of good governance – with up to 72 smaller indicators. It is put into practice using a 30-page questionnaire that every Bhutanese should pass, describing various indicators such as health, psychological well-being, education, pastime and hobbies, and so on. And the GNH commission oversees all government decisions and approves or blocks them depending on whether they fit with these aims.
As we can understand, the government of Bhutan does a particular job, taking care not only of the material indicators, but also of the spiritual development of its people. For example, a country’s economy can be very developed and wages can be very high, but people may be miserable in general. Or the opposite situation: people may have low salaries, but at the same time they can be happy and satisfied. This is the main idea of the policy of Bhutan according to which the happiness of people depends not only on wealth, and it is very important to find the right balance between material and spiritual values.
Thus, happiness is not something that we can get or buy, it is a feeling, a state that depends on many internal and external factors. And external factors depend on the policy of the country in which we live. In this case, Bhutan is an excellent example for other countries, as they should pay more attention to the happiness of their people.