Gross National Happiness

Did you know that Bhutan is the only country in the world whose paradigm of development is measured by happiness?

Zhabdrung Ngwangyal Namgyel has decreed,

“…if the government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government to exist”

His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the term ‘GNH’ meaning Gross National Happiness in 1970s. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo believed that Gross Domestic Product of the country defined the growth of a country’s economy, but however did not define the happiness of the country’s citizens.

As a result of this thought, ‘GNH’ was born and introduced as the paradigm of development. Our country’s standard measurement for development is not Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it is the general happiness of its citizens. Such approaches to development in the modern world bring a balance to materialistic values.

This concept of Gross National Happiness is divided into four pillars. They are:

  • Good Governance
  • Sustainable Socio-economic Development
  • Cultural Preservation
  • Environmental Conservation

These four pillars are further distinguished into 9 domains to make sure that people of a common understanding of the purpose of GNH. They are:

  • Psychological Wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural Diversity and Resilience
  • Good Governance
  • Community Vitality
  • Ecological Diversity and Resilience and
  • Living standards.

Based on these four pillars and nine domains, developmental activities, policies, regulations and laws are formulated and passed on.

As our present His Majesty the Fifth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchhuk states,

“Today GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people, but to me it signifies simply – development with values. Thus for my nation today GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth. GNH acts as our National Conscience guiding us towards making wise decisions for a better future.”