A four-day international leadership summit is underway to make the international business leaders explore the integration of Gross National Happiness (GNH) values and practices into their organisations.

The summit will introduce an overview of GNH in the Bhutanese context, GNH leadership, and how Bhutan has been able to integrate GNH values within the government and business sectors.

The summit themed ‘Exploring leadership for the Good Life’ started from September 11, and is organised by the GNH Centre Bhutan (GNHCB) in partnership with the Sustainable Brands Thailand.

President and patron of GNHCB, Her Royal Highness Princess Kesang Choden Wangchuck, said one of the greatest obstacles in the pursuit of happiness is that it is not given due importance. She said that instead the people choose to go after dreams that have not only taken them further from happiness but also have brought them to a state where sustainability has become the society’s most important watchword and challenge. “Why this is worrying and ought to shock us all is because sustainability is actually a euphemistic, fanciful world for survival.”

HRH said that unless GNH values are consciously imbibed and internalised, the society would not remain immune to the powerful alluring forces of materialism and consumerism. “The transformation of the Bhutanese nation into a GNH society of citizens, families and communities that are economically sustainable, ecologically responsible, socially harmonious and spiritually content can only happen when it is the people themselves who understand, and want GNH more than our policy makers and thinkers.”

Executive director of GNHCB, Saamdu Chetri (PhD), said that business has brought people to where they are today, but that being part of the nature, it is important to connect to it. “If we destroy part of the nature, directly or indirectly we destroy ourselves,” he said. “If businesses could get closer to being part of nature, then they are going to look after it.”

He said that in the modern world people are dependent on consumerism, becoming products of business as any production from what we eat or wear is nature based. “If we cannot bring transformation in how we do business in the world, we will not bring a good world for our children and great grandchildren.”

Saamdu Chetri said the summit is also expected to bring change in the business leaders, not only in themselves, but also in conducting their businesses to become leaders in the world. “The summit would take us through observation, deep reflection, contemplation and we try to develop inner calling to see where life leads us towards.”

He said that the businesses in Bhutan need to take a new step forward. “Bringing packed food to the country is much more harmful than what we do in the country in terms of production.”

Saamdu Chetri said people tend to look for happiness in external things, but that it is not happiness, but luxuries. “Happiness then becomes time bound, you feel happy in that moment and then you want something more.”

Dasho Kinley Dorji giving an overview of GNH in Bhutan, said the government cannot provide happiness but that it becomes government’s responsibility to create the conditions for individuals to seek happiness. “Happiness is your responsibility. Someone does not give you happiness.”

He said that happiness in case of GNH is not the temporary senses, but  also is being content with what you have.

Karma Cheki