This recent article published in The Independent is a good resource for LY professionals to know how Bhutan is trying to increase its happiness quotient as people and authorities work together to propound the only one of its kind concept of Gross National Happiness which measures the prosperity of a society not by material gains, but by the happiness factor.
It is hard not to think about happiness in Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom set high in the Himalayas between India and China. As the country has gradually opened itself to the West and its tourists' dollars, so it has projected and exported its philosophy of 'gross national happiness' (GNH), a belief that a society should be measured not simply by its material indicators but by the health, education and the contentedness of its people.
Such is the pervasiveness of the idea that last year, the UN adopted a non-binding resolution that 'happiness' should be included among development indicators. The notion sounds fantastic genuinely radical, even but is it anything more than a clever piece of global marketing by the Bhutanese, looking to secure their own unique brand amid the multitude of nations?
This young democracy was an absolute monarchy until four years ago is confronting a series of challenges, perhaps most pertinently providing meaningful jobs for its young people. Increasing urbanization and a shift away from farming, means there are growing numbers of young adults who do not want to take on work at their family's farm. There are social problems, too; drug abuse and rowdy gangs.
The idea of gross national happiness was developed by Bhutan's previous monarch, the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Returning from a conference of non-aligned nations in Havana, from where he reportedly developed a liking for Cuban cigars, the king's plane stopped in India where a reporter asked the monarch about the economy of the mysterious Himalayan nation. "In Bhutan, we don't just care about gross national product, we care about gross national happiness," the king is said to have retorted.
The authorities in Bhutan have received widespread attention for their idea. Delegates and envoys regularly make their way to the nation of 700,000 people to see whether the philosophy of GNH can be borrowed or adapted. In a sense, Bhutan has become associated with happiness. Francoise Pommaret a French historian and anthropologist who has lived in Bhutan since 1981says, "I think the concept is genius; it's the only alternative to the madcap development we have in the West," she said,