The idea of Gross National Happiness was first revealed to me by the famed author, Yuval Noah Harari. The thought-provoking concept has challenged me to consider a world where the Gross National Product (GNP) is joined with, or even replaced by Gross National Happiness (GNH). Let’s consider it.
The idea of GNH was coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. This comes nearly 38 years after the first modern concept of GNP was introduced. Today, GNH is technically defined as a “multi-dimensional development approach seeking to achieve a harmonious balance between material well-being and the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of society.” The key concept here is to balance the needs of the body with those of the mind.
With this in mind, Wangchuck developed a holistic index which includes 9 domains of GNH. These domains include:
Based on this index, one can see GNH takes a well-rounded approach to determine the happiness of a society. Good governance is important, but it’s not the end all be all. Gross National Happiness is shown to strive for development with values. It was designed with a psychological approach to measuring the quality of life, not to be confused with the standard of living which is often linked to GNP. To accompany the 9 pillars, there are also 4 crucial pillars.
- Good Governance
- Preservation & Promotion of Culture
- Environmental Conservation
- Sustainable & Equitable Socio-Economic Development
Together, these pillars encompass happiness in society according to Bhutan. If all countries measured themselves by GNH would it change work life, health, environmental concerns, and overall living standards? Every human being aspires for happiness, shouldn’t countries development be measured by its citizen’s happiness?
Should it be adopted?