Gross National Happiness

Can you imagine living in a world where governments focus on the happiness of their citizens as the leading indicator of their country’s health?  Where having purpose and feeling connected are two of the primary measures of a country’s success?  I can!  Though given our current political system and climate, it’s not going to happen this week or this year. 

This is the kind of change that comes from long term thinking, not turf wars and private agendas.  If we want to live in a world where our government’s primary concern is how happy we are, our culture would have to change drastically, we’d have to think about how the actions we take today will affect the generations that come after us and the world around us.  We’d have to think about long term gains, not short term ones. 

In the west, we are taught to always want more, to focus on getting what we don’t have.  That kind of thinking is great for fueling a consumer economy.  It sucks for helping us feel grateful, happy and satisfied. 

Gross National Happiness was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck during an interview with the Indian press.  During a speech in 2008, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck said, “I felt that while young people leaving university must be armed with degrees, it is more important that they be endowed with a strong sense of values that bring meaning and purpose in their lives as well as stable, bright futures ahead for society and the world.”

GNH Factors:

  1. Economic Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
  2. Environmental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
  3. Physical Wellness: Indicated via statistical measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
  4. Mental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
  5. Workplace Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
  6. Social Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
  7. Political Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.