Bhutan, also known as the land of Thunder Dragon, is said to be one of the happiest countries of the world. Yes, you read that right. Bhutan is situated in South Asia near the Himalayas, surrounded by India, Tibet, China and Nepal. It is the only country which has preserved its Buddhist culture since the 17th century and always believed in integrating spirituality and compassion with governance.
With the evolution of time, Bhutan has started globalization by coming out of isolation. Around the same time, the concept of GNH was introduced in the country. Bhutan is the only country in the world which calculates GNH over GDP. Unlike of what is seems, GNH is not an economical term; it stands for Gross National Happiness. It is a philosophical term that has been included in the constitution of Bhutan since July 18, 2008. Thus, GNH constitutes of a happiness index that measures the health and happiness of the citizens of Bhutan. You might be wondering how is happiness calculated statistically. Bhutan, has set-up a happiness commission to ensure that each of the policy decisions pass through the commission. Thus such a great concept has been intertwined well with policy decisions, making it a reality. A former king of the country, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, produced a thirty-page questionnaire related to the calculation of GNH. This questionnaire is divided into nine main domains, as mentioned below:
Cultural Diversity and Resilience
Community Vitality and
Ecological Diversity and Resilience
The people are interviewed individually and they are required to answer questions related to these nine domains. Their answers, hence helps in the estimation of the GNH.
The government of Bhutan has a goal to increase this happiness index of the country with every passing year. They measure the country’s progress based on it. Ever since the implementation of GNH (i.e. July, 2008), three surveys have been conducted – the latest one being in 2015. It was concluded that the GNH has increased from 0.743 (in 2010) to 0.756 (in 2015). This implied that the country has progressed in terms of the ‘lives of its citizens’. This also showed that about 92 per cent of the population was “narrowly, extensively or deeply happy”.
Now the question is that how is Bhutan one among the happiest countries on earth? How are the people there happy? There are many simple answers to these questions. For instance, Bhutanese do not invest their happiness in materialistic things. If you ask the people around you about what makes them happy, you are highly likely to receive answers like, “a luxury product”, “a foreign trip”, “social media likes and followers”, etc. This isn’t the case in Bhutan. People there focus on spiritual happiness rather than materialistic things. As mentioned earlier, the country was isolated from the western world until the past decade. They do not have branded clothing stores, gadgets or restaurants. Rather, they have peace of mind.
Another possible secret to the country’s happiness is that about 60% of the country land is covered with forests. This means that the Bhutanese breathe non-toxic air which keeps them healthier as compared to many other countries, a healthy body is a happy body.
Their religion and culture also contributes towards their happiness. More than 2/3rd of Bhutan’s population is Buddhist. Buddhism is considered as one of the calmest and most peaceful religions on earth. It encourages people to be good to one and other and live together in peace and harmony.
Even though Bhutan had isolated itself for centuries, it has the potentially set an example for the world on how to live happily without a huge list of items. It has truly proven the quote, “You cannot expect others to make you happy if you can’t make yourself happy, first”!’