Gross National Happiness – GNH

Gross National Happiness – GNH : His Majesty, the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck said, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product”. 

This is one of the most profound statements of the 20th century on development philosophy; it confronted the conventional, constricted
and materialistic notions of human development.

The Gross National Happiness – GNH philosophy was conceived based on the fundamental belief that the purpose of development must create conditions that allow citizens to pursue happiness – happiness as the greatest human wealth. Human beings have needs of both body and mind, and so success will not necessarily be measured by economics or material possessions but by the level of happiness and well being.

It is a unique feature in Bhutanese development economics and social theory, as it combines cultural and traditional preservation with post-modern values.  Gross National Happiness – GNH is a balanced ‘middle path’ in which equitable socioeconomic development is integrated with environmental conservation, cultural promotion and good governance.

To understand and measure Gross National Happiness – GNH, it is broadly divided into Four Pillars and then further into Nine Domains to define and analyze the happiness of the Bhutanese people.

  • The four pillars: Good Governance, Sustainable Socioeconomic Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture, and Environmental Conservation
  • The nine domains: (1) Living standards, (2) Education, (3) Health, (4) Environment, (5) Community Vitality, (6) Time-use, (7) Psychological well-being, (8) Good Governance and Cultural resilience and (9) promotion.

In 2012, Gross National Happiness made it to United Nations when the 20th of March was declared as International Day of Happiness, understanding that happiness is a fundamental human goal and universal aspiration.

Happiness as an ultimate goal of the Bhutanese political system is mentioned as early as 1729 in the legal code of Bhutan where it said, “…if the Government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.”  Today, Gross National Happiness – GNH is widely debated, discussed and studied around the world as an alternative development philosophy.

The Gross National Happiness – GNH statement embodies the fundamental wisdom and compassion of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck for the realization of an enlightened society. It is Bhutan’s gift to the world.  It’s a legacy of a great King and his love for his people and the humanity.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) has come to mean so many things to so many people, but to me it signifies simply – development with values. Thus for my nation today, Gross National Happiness  GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity.” ~ His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan