What is Gross National Happiness?

If we asked this question to our own people here at home, likely no straight answers would be forthcoming. And this development philosophy is travelling the world.

The development philosophy in itself is not wrong. It is indeed very beautiful. We have been fortunate that we have had the courage to measure our nation’s progress our own way.

If we cannot foster peace and create space for individual citizens to pursue happiness, we are not doing well.

But then, as a development philosophy born and nurtured in Bhutan, and that which has the potential to revolutionise the welfare systems of the world, it is incumbent on us to share our perspectives and experiences with the international community.

At a GNH conference in Malaysia this week, young GNH ambassadors were appointed. That is good. But they must also realise that now they have a serious responsibility upon their communities and the world at large.

As GNH travels far and wide in the wind, there is a need to look inside. Some deep soul-searching will only do us good.

Here at home, the most productive group – youth and yeomen – are the most unhappy lot. And we talk relentlessly about happiness. There are pillars to talk about and bump onto, but what does it mean to an average Bhutanese?

One would argue thence that looking at home first and then talking abroad would be by far a more sensible approach when we go about selling an idea as subjective and ethereal as happiness. Our governments, therefore, have the responsibility to create conducive environment for each and every citizen to pursue some level of contentment at least.

Have we done enough already?

We have more to do, of course. We can ill afford unnecessary foot-dragging and self-aggrandisement when we talk about our own development approach. We do first and tell the world as it is. Or else, we run the risk of losing the grip on our own vision and higher national dreams.