Saturday, April 3, 2010


GNP - Gross National Product
GNH - Gross National Happiness

There really is such a thing as Gross National Happiness, and there is actually an entire nation that measures its success on the Gross National Happiness instead of the Gross National Product. Blown away? Maybe not, but I was as I found myself 65 pages into The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. The concept of the small nation of Bhutan adopting a way to measure their success based on happiness was intriguing! How did this come to be?

In November 2008 the Bhutanese people coronated their 5th king, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and with him adopted the concept of GNH. Their belief was that the Gross Domestic Product indicator was a measure of physical output of  a society and was biased towards more production and consumption regardless of the need or want of that output. The government of this 691,141 person nation in South Asia wanted indicators of sucess that showed a direct causality of happiness and well-being with respect to the variables being measured. They developed nine dimensions that the define happiness and well being in Bhutan. They are:

1. Psychological Well-being
2. Time Use
3. Community Vitality
4. Culture
5. Health
6. Education
7. Environmental Diversity
8. Living Standard
9. Governance

Under their definition, true happiness is when you attain a balance of all of the above dimensions.

Granted, Bhutan is a small nation compared to the United States. But, what would our government look like if they adopted this philosophy? How would we compare in a rating of nations based on the Gross National Happiness rather than the Gross National Product?

We may not measure our success as a nation on the GNH, but it turns out that we can see how, as a nation,  we measure up in terms of happiness. The World Database of Happiness based in Rotterdam, Netherlands registers scientific research on the subjective enjoyment of life. Data can be found for every country in the world.

So, how happy are we?

Maybe instead of Morgantown, WV we should move to Costa Rica?!

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