Bhutan's Concept of Gross National Happiness

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Bhutan’s Concept of Gross National Happiness

In an increasingly industrialized and globalized world, it is very difficult for small developing countries such as Bhutan to stay true to their own cultural identity. Bhutan, a small landlocked country located between India and China uses the concept of Gross National Happiness as a tool to ensure that their country is not over influenced by globalization. Gross National Happiness ensures that the economic development of Bhutan is in harmony with the culture, spirituality and environment. This strategy consists of four pillars relating to economics, the environment, culture and government which all must be in balance to create ‘happiness’ within the society. The Bhutanese people put much less emphasis on economic prosperity than we do in Western Society, and because of this, the four pillar strategy would not work in the West. The values of Western culture are unbalanced, as material goods and prosperity are of higher priority than the other factors of happiness such as the environment, therefore the concept of Gross National Happiness as measured by the Bhutanese could not apply.

The strategy of Gross National Happiness is also referred to as the Middle Path Strategy, and addresses four main pillars. These pillars consist of Economic Development, Ecological Protection, Cultural Preservation and Good Governance. (Larmer, B. 2008) This policy strongly brings in to play the ‘Buddhist Way of Life’ in respect to sustaining the environment and being one with nature. (Herrera, S. 2005) This way of thinking pertains to three things: human beings, society, and the natural environment. Buddhists believe that by harming nature you are disturbing the spirits and gods. Bhutanese Peoples’ values are less emphasized on money and profit, and more focused on spiritual well being and protecting their pristine environment. (Rice, M. 2004) Bhutan may be on the right track to happiness, as a new wave of world leaders and...
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