Bhutan is a mountainous country between India and China. It is nestled in the Eastern Himalayas and brought us the concept of Gross National Happiness. It was brought into being in 1972 by the king of Bhutan, the brilliant, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He was committed to building a society based on Buddhist spiritual values.
I wish we could have GNP the world over, rather than the present economic measure of GDP which is boosted by money spent on defense, security and pollution clean-up. How can that be a good thing? I for one would be a lot happier if I saw headlines about GNH rising, rather than GDP. Our GDP may be rising, but I feel that as a society we are getting further away from happiness, serenity and peace.
The more we have the more we want, afflicted by affluenza. Sometimes it’s a perceived need based on what other’s have and not a real need that leads to our unhappiness. Sometimes when browsing magazines we often are induced to buy what we don’t really need and feel unhappy when we don’t have those things. I am totally guilty of that. This is the reason why in Bhutan you will hardly see an advert. Also TV was only introduced in 1999 and since then MTV and wrestling have been banned.
Bhutan has been keeping to its values with 60% of the country forested and smoking banned. I think it’s wonderful that environment and spirituality comes before capitalist needs. Recently it has been reported that primary school lessons start with the children sitting in absolute silence. The teachers have noticed that the meditation sessions have made the children more serene and focused.
The Bhutanese believe in promoting compassion, love and kindness. They are clear about not wanting blatant consumerism. The leaders realize that preoccupation with money prevents us from seeing the wider picture. Wouldn’t it be great if world leaders learnt from the people of Bhutan? This beautiful Himalayan Kingdom where prosperity is shared and traditions and the environment protected. Perhaps with the right values and governance in place, disasters like the recent BP Oil spill would never happen.