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.

6 responses to “Bhutan and Gross National Happiness

  1. We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have… and when you go through a serious challenge such as cancer, the simple things like enjoying a nice meal, great music, a good book or the company of friends takes on a greater meaning.

    Really?… cigarettes are illegal? wow.

  2. They are illegal–pretty cool, no? Linnea

  3. I discovered a few years ago that each day should be enjoyed and appreciated; it’s all we really have for sure. It makes life much more interesting.

  4. More interesting as well as more satisfying (with less disappointment), no? I miss you and hope I can visit before too long. L

  5. Hey, I’d love that…
    We recently found out my sister in law has breast cancer and are coping with that-she has had surgery and now needs chemo and radiation.
    I’ve sent her to your blog because she is starting one too, and I think it helps?

  6. Pingback: On a path to greater learning and understanding | life and breath: outliving lung cancer

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