Gross National Happiness?

GNH sure is picking up worldwide. I guess it is great news, an added USP, something extra for people wishing to visit the Shangri la country.
GNH is a great philosophy, an idea born out of brilliance. And like any great idea, everyone sees it in their own way. Everyone interprets it in their own way.
What is GNH to me? Well, this is sort of in reponse to people who have come to Bhutan and commented on how the people are so happy, or have said to me, “Oh, you are from the country of GNH. You must be a very happy person.”
I don’t want to tell these people they are wrong, or that they are missing the point here somewhere. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion/interpretation. I am just going to explain mine….mostly for those people who say “We will never acheive GNH.” This is an explanation of why I love the idea.
I believe GNH germinated when His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo issued kashos saying that while framing policy issues, people at those levels should take into consideration, or, in fact, use as a guiding factor, the question, “Is this going to make our people happier?” As opposed to “Is this going to make us any richer?” or any other motive.
I believe GNH is a policy issue, not a personal one. GNH is not about making people realise that they should be happier, and then teaching them what it is that would make them happier.
It is of course, an important realisation that people must have, that they should strive to be happy, and it is also important that they sit down and think of all the things that make them happy.
I should sit down and think if my job really makes me happy. If my religious beliefs make me happy, if my friends and family relations make me happy, if my income makes me happy, if what I do in my spare time makes me happy. Sure, I should. But are we, as citizens of Bhutan, expected to do that, and as a result, all end up happy? It could be a nice programme to start to help out people, but I think our policy of GNH goes beyond that.
Like I siad, GNH is a state policy, not an individual motto. It could be an individual motto if you wish to adopt it. but in our country, it is a state policy. Or, it should be.
I don’t know to what extent the policymakers take GNH into consideration while making choices. But actually, the point is, not taking the four pillars of GNH into consideration, but using it as a baseline upon which to place the policy.
“Money does not give you happiness,” i hear people say these days. “You are so lucky your country realises that.”
I dont know. It is true, money is not the only thing that makes you happy. But it is one of the things that make us happy. Besides that, we need a clean, safe environment to live in, a good social life, and a governance system which is fair. That is the optimum environment for people to be able to be happy.
Does that guarantee happiness? No. Someone’s death, failure to achieve something, broken relationships, ill health…so many things can make me unhappy.
But my country’s policy is that it does not contribute to my unhappiness.
I think the core issue is, “are our policies actually making us happier?”
Then comes the whole assessment things. the four pillars and nine areas and the questionaires. they are tools to find out what it is that make people happy.
The most important thing is that we should always remember- we are a country that gives top prority to people’s happiness while making decisions.



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