Measuring our Gross National Happiness

Bhutanese childrenWhat if, instead of measuring our Gross National Product, we measured our Gross National Happiness?

It’s not as crazy a concept as you think. In fact, there is one country that has made their Gross National Happiness a priority. Bhutan has been measuring its Gross National Happiness since 1972. The GNH is based on the philosophy that if the government cannot create happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for government to exist.

The GNH of Bhutan is based on four pillars: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation and nine domains to ensure the happiness of its citizens: psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.

A person is considered happy if they have sufficiency in six of the nine domains.

Here are a few interesting facts from the Bhutan GNH:

  • The happiest people by occupation in Bhutan include civil servants and monks.
  • Interestingly, the unemployed are happier than corporate employees, housewives, farmers or the national work force.
  • Unmarried people and young people are among the happiest.
  • Men tend to be happier than women

The 2015 GNH survey showed an increase from the 2015 in their overall GNH from 0.743 to 0.756 with 43.4 of the Bhutanese people being deeply or extensively happy, and 91.2% showing sufficiency in at least half of the domains.

I’m not sure I’m willing to leave my corporate job to become a monk, but there are many things we can learn from Bhutan’s GNH.

First, we need to put a priority on the happiness of people. As a nation, we need to measure how well we are doing at creating the right conditions for our citizens to be happy. And finally, North Americans need to relinquish our obsession with work and material things and go back to the basics. Things like spiritual wellbeing, being physically active and healthy, and developing strong communities.

Tomorrow, March 20th is the International Day of Happiness. This week’s #HappyAct is to measure your own GNH. Of the nine domains Bhutan measures, how do you score? Leave a comment.

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Could world happiness end global poverty and lead to world peace?

March 20 is International Day of HappinessOn June 28, 2012, all 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the resolution to make March 20th the International Day of Happiness.

A basic tenet of the U.N. resolution is happiness is a human right and goal. It states,
“The General Assembly,[…] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal,[…] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples. “

It’s wonderful to think that simply by doing what makes you happy and looking out for others’ happiness, we could solve global issues like poverty and war. Some would say this is idealistic and utopian. I see it as a beautiful and simple answer to so many of the problems in the world today.

Pharrell Williams has become an unofficial ambassador for the International Day of Happiness, launching his Happy video in 2014 and addressing the UN in 2015, where he proclaimed happiness is our birthright and asked for action on climate change.

What you can do to make the world a happier place on March 20th?
• Sign up at speakhappiness.com for their free “Happiness in the workplace” guide to make your workplace a happier place
• Share the happy. Use the hashtag #InternationalDayofHappiness and #HappyDay in March, or share one of my blog posts in March
• Read the 2015 World Happiness Report that delves into such fascinating questions as how does subjective well-being vary around the world by gender and age?
• Fresh out of school and need a job? The International Day of Happiness organization is looking for interns for social media, and a writer and editor

This week’s #HappyAct is to mark March 20th by doing something that makes you happy, and something to help the happiness of another person. Then do it every day of the year. Let’s make the world a happier place, one happy act at a time.

What do you do if your hashtag gets hijacked? Join the party!

Girl in kayak at sunset
My #HappyAct for the week: dreaming of when our ice will finally go out on the lake

When I first started this blog, I did a quick search to make sure no one was using happy act as a URL or hashtag. That changed on March 20, the International Day of Happiness when a group called actsofhappiness.org asked its community to share a #happyact on their wall or on their social networks. For each #happyact posted, they would donate $1 to Big Brothers and Big Sisters in the United States.

As of this morning, they had 11,539 posts on their wall. One woman from Pennsyvlania wrote, “I’m happy because my premature son that weighed 2lbs 10oz is turning a happy and healthy 6 years old on Monday.” Brenda from Iowa wrote, “I’m happy because I am alive, I have many good friends, and loving family.”

There are many organizations and websites dedicated to helping the world be a happier place. Randomactsofkindness.org is another popular one. We are not alone in wanting to bring more happiness into this world, and I say bring it on, the more the merrier. It’s time to join the party and make a difference.

Participating in these happiness and kindness movements that focus on selfless acts you can do for others is noble. But happiness also means being selfish sometimes and knowing what you need to do for yourself. I hope this blog is different from some of those other sites by digging deeper into what truly makes us happy and exploring topics not everyone talks about, like last week’s post on Have an active fantasy life.

For now, let’s join the party. This week’s #HappyAct is to post a picture or share a story using the #HappyAct hashtag on your Facebook page, Twitter account or on the actsofhappiness.org wall. Or feel free to email me your pic or story. Some day, I hope to have this functionality on this blog, but one step at a time. Have a happy week.