How Does Happiness in Bhutan Affect You?

Back in 1972, the king of Bhutan, the small nation nestled in the Himalayas proclaimed that measuring the Gross National Happiness was more important than the Gross National Product in determining keys to a happy life. That was remarkable thinking for the leader of a developing country. His concern for the personal well being of his citizens has led his country on an interesting direction. Happiness in Bhutan is now recognized in much of the rest of the world.

Measuring happiness is an interesting challenge, but the ruler was serious and enlisted the help of experts in the world, as well as Bhutanese values to determine nine critical areas for happiness. In addition to material well being, they determined the following areas to be critical to happiness: Psychological well being, physical health, life-work balance, education, cultural vitality, community vitality, environmental quality, and democratic governance. It should be noted, no one domain is considered more important than others.

Interestingly enough, some of the keys are personal, meaning they affect the individual personally, with remaining domains being connected to the larger community in which a person lives.

Since the proclamation, the life expectancy in Bhutan has increased by 50 percent. In addition, the government has placed 60 percent of the land under forest cover to protect precious habitats.

Recently Bhutan was considering joining the World Trade Organization, generally coveted by countries. In reviewing how joining the WTO would impact the Gross National Happiness, it was determined to have a negative impact on well being. As a result, Bhutan has withdrawn their application to the organization.

Happiness in Bhutan has spread to other countries, including communities in the United States.

About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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