Happiness is not a laughing matter, at least not in Bhutan. Happiness is serious business for us. So serious, that we’ve established a Gross National Happiness (GNH) Commission, which ensures that everything the country does contributes to the overall well-being and happiness of its people.
The pursuit of GNH is also enshrined in the country’s Constitution and when you ask a Bhutanese if they are really happy, most would say yes. Happiness is that it is not an end goal. It is the journey and mindful pursuit of happiness that leads to fulfilment in one’s life, and contributes to a peace of mind.
In the 70s, the Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, famously said that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product”. And with that, the Bhutanese started pursuing this national goal. We are careful in the steps we take to development. Decisions and policies must adhere to GNH guidelines of cultural preservation, protection of the environment, good governance and sustainable socio-economic development.
Happiness in Bhutan is beyond just trying to attain that single goal. It is a collection of cultural identity, belonging, a close community, compassion, caring for the environment, cultivation of patience and simply put, just taking things easy.
Is happiness the only thing we should be pursuing in life? No. There are many important life lessons beyond happiness. But it is the journey to happiness and the lessons we learn along the way that matters – not happiness itself.
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