Daily Archives: January 21, 2010

Bhutan and Gross National Happiness

I have been toiling for some days now on a couple of posts regarding my chemotherapy experience.  To be honest, it is not easy to revisit and I have been dragging my emotional legs. Yesterday evening I took a break to attend a general parent meeting with David at the Sant Bani School.  In addition to garden variety updates, Kent Bicknell (headmaster/principal) was giving a presentation on his recent trip to Bhutan where he took part in the “Educating for Gross National Happiness Workshop.”

Bhutan is a small Buddhist nation which recently became a democracy.  In direct contrast to an accepted approach for determining the well-being of a nation, the Gross National Product index, Bhutan is attempting to measure Gross National Happiness.  Click here to read a New York Times article  about Bhutan’s assertion that happiness and material prosperity don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

It’s an interesting concept.  Although I am skeptical that a quality such as happiness can be assessed using quantitative means, I believe an examination of what constitutes happiness is both important and long overdue.  The Declaration of Independence in my own country referred to “the pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right.  Somewhere along the line many of us have forgotten how elemental simple happiness really can be, and that it is not a commodity that can be purchased by those with means and denied to those without.

Happiness is a state of mind and although it can certainly be influenced by outside events, it is never determined by them.  Each of us can choose to be happy, no matter what.  Really, I know this to be true.  Sometimes I fall off the happiness wagon, but I keep climbing back on.

And today I am extra happy in the knowledge that there is a place on earth where Happiness has a capital H and is a national priority.  And it’s not the only thing that Bhutan is getting right: cigarettes are illegal there.