Time for Happiness?

Here’s another idea whose time has come: a national Happiness Index. We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, and with the current state of the economy, that message has hit home, hard, for many of us. So if happiness doesn’t come from financial prosperity then where does it come from? The little country of Bhutan seems to think it knows.

Bhutan has implemented a national Happiness Index, called the Gross National Happiness, to measure the success of its people and its government policies. Built on the “four pillars” of sustainable development, environmental protection (more than 25% of its landmass is protected forest), cultural preservation, and good governance, Bhutan has seen dramatic improvements in literacy, infant mortality, and the general health and welfare of its population.

Now other countries are studying the model, hoping to develop their own models of health and happiness that go beyond economic success. Both Great Britain and Canada have implemented national indices of well-being. Perhaps it’s time for the U.S., too, to shift its focus away from increased consumption towards an increase in quality of life.

For more on Bhutan’s Gross National Happines index:

“A New Measure of Well-Being from a Happy Little Kingdom,” The New York Times, Oct. 4, 2005.

“Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment,” National Geographic, March, 2008.

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