Bhutan joined the global community in observing the International Day of Happiness yesterday. 

It was an opportunity for us as individuals and as a nation to reflect on what brings us joy and accomplishments in life.  

This year’s theme, “Happier Together”,  is relevant to our times and the changes happening in the country. It emphasises the importance of human connections and social support systems in our pursuit of happiness.  

Unlike in other countries, in Bhutan happiness is not just a personal pursuit, but a national aspiration. The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has been the guiding principle of our country’s development for several decades, prioritising the well-being of our people over economic growth, and emphasising the importance of social and environmental sustainability.   

In a world that is growing increasingly divided and polarised day by day, the idea of happiness as a collective goal provides a powerful framework for building more harmonious and cohesive societies. By valuing social connections and promoting a sense of belonging, we can create communities that are more resilient and compassionate.  

However, as we know achieving happiness together is not always easy. It requires us to set aside our differences and work towards common goals such as social harmony and progress. 

Much through our history, the Bhutanese, who grew up treading the dusty trails barefoot, no matter how harsh their conditions were, always had enough to share even with strangers, care for their neighbours, and were content with what they had.  

Today, as we prosper, an obvious result of the State’s free education and health care services, and opportunities to do better working elsewhere, what is important is that we remain mindful of the duty of care for our loved ones, empathy, and the very fact that we are Bhutanese. 

With the uncertainties in the economy and testing times as Bhutan embarks on various reforms, we need to reach out to those who may be feeling isolated and extend a helping hand and a listening ear. These are the characteristics that make us Bhutanese. 

Ultimately, because happiness is a solid destination, we can only strive to create a society that is more just, more peaceful, and happier, wherever we are.