Gross National Happiness (Bhutan)
The term Gross National Happiness (GNH) was coined in 1972 by Bhutan's former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan when he famously declared that Gross National Happiness was more important than Gross National Product. This was intended to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.
The Centre for Bhutan Studies was established to define happiness according to the Bhutanese, and to create a system for measuring it. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. GNH survey gathers data on 72 measurable indicators grouped under nine principal domains – time use, living standards, good governance, psychological well-being, community vitality, culture, health, education, and ecology. Although initially inspired by the Buddhist values it is considered to have wider application than Bhutan, and is informing the evolution of new metrics of environmental and social wellbeing worldwide. Derek Bok acknowledges in his new book, The Politics of Happiness, “the sheer utopian audacity of a country that commits itself to making happiness the centerpiece of national policy is enough to compel a respectful interest.”
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