Imagine: Gross National Happiness

Did you know that our property is supposed to revert to the state after our death?  Our Founding Fathers deliberately designed property to be “on loan” in order to prevent a royal class, or a class of the ultra-wealthy.  Imagine how different we might live our lives if we considered ownership temporary.

In my corporate career, centered in science and industry, I learned what gets measured, gets attention.  Measurement is the first step towards improvement.  Thus we pay attention to Gross National Product (GNP), National Debt, Unemployment Rates, etc.  In other words, measurements of national economic prosperity.

Manufacturers measure things like cycle time, re-work, defect rate, variability, and so on.  These are measurements of efficiency and effectiveness.

In our careers, we measure income and percent pay increase, and ratings on our performance reviews.  We measure our success.

On a personal level, we keep track of our HDL/LDL, our BMI, our Blood Pressure, our weight, our dress size, and the hairs left on our brush each morning.  This is how we measure our health and beauty.

What if we took the approach of the Tibetan country of Bhutan?
The king of Bhutan has formally made it the country’s mission to improve the happiness of citizens since 1972.  Legal code of 1629:

If the government cannot create happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for government to exist.

Bhutan put formal measurements in place to measure Gross National Happiness (GNH.)  Where GDP measures commerce, GNH measures well-being.

The Bhutan government found a way to objectively measure happiness through nine weighted dimensions, each with a number of indicators:

  1.     Psychology
  2.     Time Use
  3.     Community Vitality
  4.     Culture
  5.     Health
  6.     Education
  7.     Environmental Diversity
  8.     Living Standard
  9.     Governance

For example, Time Use is measured by first acknowledging the value of time spent in non-paid-work activity such as in community service, or child care, or education, or leisure activities.  Health measurements include a self-assessment, number of days healthy, mental health indicators and disabilities.  The GNH index is divided into benchmarks indicators.

Here’s a video on how it works


Each new national policy must pass the review of a GNH Impact statement, much like an Environmental Impact statement here in the USA.

Imagine what our lives might be like, if a top national priority was the happiness of the citizens.

Imagine: John Lennon (soundtrack)Imagine what our priorities might be if we were less preoccupied with getting that next pay-raise of building nest eggs.  In the words of John Lennon:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

If you could have just one of these, which will you choose:

Happiness or Wealth?

Chooses just one.  No fair rationalizing, as in:  if I’m rich, I will be happy.

What about,

Happiness or Health?

What trumps happiness for you?

For more about GNH visit:

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