GNH means “Gross National Happiness,”
the concept was originated by the leader of Bhutan, the fourth Dragon King. In a “nut shell” the idea was to measure the level of happiness of the people of Bhutan.
Bhutan’s government seeks to balance and connect the happiness and personal well-being of its entire people with the economic growth of the country. How to you measure that?
Bhutan’s “A Short Guide to Gross National Happiness Index,” offers number of measurable indicators, for example; Psychological Wellbeing which includes factors such as life satisfaction, Emotional balance (between positive and negative emotions) and Spirituality.
It’s interesting to note how subjective factors, like spirituality are measure and in this case the measurement is based on four questions. According to the “Short Guide…”
“They cover the person’s self-reported spirituality level, the frequency with which they consider karma, 10 engage in prayer recitation, and meditation. Self-reported spirituality level describes the person’s judgment on his or her own position on the spirituality continuum. The question of the consideration of karma asked people to what extent they take into account their own volitional impulses and actions as having moral consequences in future just as they did on the present…”
The other indicators include, health, education culture, how time is used, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience and last (and purposefully so) is the standard of living.
Check out this video by the “Simple Show,” which explains GNH…
If we’re honest, as we look behind the curtain, the real reason that we seek “economic growth” is to feel free and connect to feelings of happiness. Happiness is the goal of all goals; and we are beginning to understand that economic growth does not equal happiness. In fact economic growth has not, in many cases, led to any real or proportional reduction in the level of poverty.
The good news is that the “movement” is gaining momentum. For example, last year the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring March 20 the annual International Day of Happiness. The rapid spread of this idea, I believe, is due to our collective desire for fulfillment in an increasingly materialistic world.
The secret that the Bhutanese understand and that the rest of us are just coming to is what they call, “Beyul,” meaning “hidden lands of happiness,” that is, true happiness arises from within each of us and is not based on certain outside conditions being fulfilled.
Simply because happiness can be measured in GNH, doesn’t mean that we will all arrive at happiness instantly together, however it does mean that we are waking up and realizing that happiness is our goal. A goal which could arguably be as important to the survival of our society and our world is to create balance between GNP and the GNH.
Personally I’m leaning in the direction of the GNH.