Why People in Bhutan Might Enjoy More Happiness Than You

bhutan happinessThe people in Bhutan have a lot to teach us about happiness. In fact they are the folks who invented Gross National Happiness. 

Quickie question: Why do you want lotsa money?

Your most-likely answer:  So as to buy lotsa stuff – and be happy, dammit!

But does more money and more stuff really lead to more happiness?

“Standard of living has increased dramatically and happiness has increased not at all, and in some cases has diminished slightly,” says Professor Daniel Kahneman of the University of Princeton.

On an isn’t that interesting note…

Bhutan, a remote Himalayan kingdom, has consistently remained one of the happier places in our world. Even though it is not close to being one of the richest.

Why Do People in Bhutan Enjoy More Happiness Than You?

Their government creates policies based on Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness System includes:

  • Banning advertising.  Why? They’ve read reports how advertising is a major cause of unhappiness. It creates envy by making people feel “less well-off.”
  • Pushing for more exercise and healthier eating. Why? They recognize the healthier the body, the happier the mind! As a result, the Bhutan government actually discourages junk food – along with cigarettes and alcohol.

The idea that politics should be about creating “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” is actually not new.

It goes back to Jeremy Bentham, an 18th century philosopher. Bentham tried to get politicians to create policies which boosted citizen’s general happiness levels.

Recently Bentham’s ideas have been dusted off and revisited in Britain. Bentham encouraged the Prime Minister to hold a “Life Satisfaction” seminar – where they considered the following concepts:

  • creating a happiness index
  • teaching people about happiness
  • encouraging more support for volunteering
  • pushing for a “more leisured work-life balance”
  • creating higher taxes for the rich – so there’d be less of a division between the very rich and very poor — and thereby less envy and its accompanying depression affects.

Britain’s Richard Layard, author of “Happiness: Lessons for a New Science,”  is also actively pushing the government to immediately employ another 10,000 therapists. Why? He wants to increase the happiness of citizens!

With all this in mind, I want you to stop overly focusing on how much money you’re making.

Instead re-focus on how much happiness you’re making!

Remember: There are many things to cash in on which are far better than cash.

Here are 4 things we can learn from Bhutan to enjoy more happiness

1. Avoid poison envy.

Consistently studies show comparison kills happiness. Consciously re-focus on what you have. Try to end your day with “A 3 Blessings List” – recognizing three things which went well – and why!

2. Spend loving time with friends and family – for both more happiness and more health!

Get this: Studies show friendship wards off germs! Just as stress triggers ill health, the greater your friendships, the greater the protective effect against ill health!

3. Live a life with meaning and purpose.

How? Appreciate how what you do in your job, and contribute to your friends, family and community — all matters! Look for new ways to give back to the people around you. Altruism is actually an act of self-interest. Studies consistently show that people who are involved with volunteerism are a happier group.

4. Keep trying to use your “signature strength” in new ways.

Your “signature strength” is that thing you love to do – which makes you lose track of time when you’re doing it.  A “signature strength” is something you  feel passionate about doing – and talented doing.

Chances are you’re eager to keep getting better and better at your “signature strength.” And it’s important that you put in the time to do just that. Doing your “signature strength” often will increase your self esteem – which then increases happiness.

Plus you’ll be tapping into 2 other big happiness boosters: embracing challenge and pursuing consistent growth!

I’d love to hear your insights on the comment section below! What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read this inspirational essay about how the people of Bhutan enjoy more happiness?

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