The Gross National Happiness Index

Can you imagine living in a country that emphasized your happiness as a national priority? Bhutan has done just this. They actually have a Gross National Happiness Index – but it’s not necessary focused on happiness as some might define it. As Bhutan Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering explains,

“We in Bhutan are very unique; our democracy is very, very unique … in the sense we all are grounded very strongly by our national values. We do not put personal interest ahead of national interest.

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“When we say Gross National Happiness, it is not the celebrative ‘Ha ha — Ho ho’ kind of happiness that we look for in life. It only means contentment, control of your mind, control of wants in your life. Don’t be jealous with others, be happy with what you have, be compassionate, be a society where you can be more than happy to share.”

They have a Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies that administers their Gross National Happiness surveys. They ask people frequently about how happy they felt yesterday, how often they meditate and other parameters. Every five years they measure nine key areas of happiness and have done so in 210 and 2015 so far. The nine key areas include: psychological well-being, health, education, good governance, ecology, time use, community vitality, culture and living standards.

Their approach is a fascinating one and certainly one that other countries can learn a great deal from emulating, even in little ways.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]

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