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Gross National Happiness and Bhutan

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

The concept that directs Bhutan's administration is known as "gross national happiness" (GNH). It provides a metric for gauging a population's general contentment and wellbeing. The Bhutanese Constitution, which came into effect on July 18, 2008, established the Gross National Happiness Index as the country's primary measure of success.


The concept of GNH was developed by the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, and was nurtured throughout the modernization period of Bhutan under the rule of Druk Gyalpo, the third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.



According to the idea, progress should be approached holistically, and non-economic components of wellbeing should be given the same weight as economic ones. GNH is distinguished from GDP by prioritizing collective happiness as the purpose of governance, emphasizing harmony with the natural environmental and cultural values as reflected in the 9 categories of happiness and 4 pillars of GNH, and considering individual happiness as a subset of collective happiness.

The four pillars of GNH:

  1. Sustainable and sociology-economic development.

  2. Preservation and promotion of culture.

  3. Protection and preservation of the environment.

  4. Good Governance.


The nine domains of happiness are as follows:


  1. Psychological and emotional well-being.

  2. Proper living standards

  3. Health.

  4. Culture.

  5. Education.

  6. Community vitality.

  7. Good governance.

  8. Balanced time use.

  9. Ecological integration.


Source for pillars and domains:



Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Commission is responsible for putting GNH into practice. The GNH Commission is led by the prime minister and includes the secretaries of all other government departments as well as the commission's secretary. The creation and execution of the country's 5-year plan as well as the promulgation of policies are tasks assigned to the GNH Commission. The GNH commission uses a GNH policy screening tool and a GNH project screening tool to decide whether to approve policies or carry out projects. They also use the GNH screening tools to predict how policy measures would affect the levels of GNH in Bhutan.


The GNH Center Bhutan (GNHCB) was also established as a tribute to further execute GNH's mission and philosophy. Azhi Kezang Choden Wangchuck serves as the patron of the GNHCB. The center sees itself as a promoter of compassionate GNH ideals and is driven to build a society where true happiness exists. They also strive to provide sustainable solutions for people and the earth in accordance with GNH's ideals of people-centricity.


Bhutan's GNH Index stands apart from other models in part because religious behavior assessment components are not included in other models since they were created for secular countries. The information, which varies over time, is utilized to compare levels of happiness among various groups of citizens.


In western societies, the goal of happiness is to lessen a person's sadness. Success and self-fulfillment serve as its defining characteristics. Autonomy and independence are heavily emphasized. It refers to a person's psychological status as an individual and is strongly connected to material wealth. Furthermore, the Gross National Product (GNP) is the key social welfare measure in the West.


Courtesy: Bhutan Soul

Alternatively, collectivism is how the East views the world. The health of the community as a whole determines happiness. Additionally, the core Buddhist doctrine of gaining happiness is the foundation of Gross National Happiness. Buddhism's central tenet is that the world is filled with great suffering, which can be alleviated by following the dharma, or teachings, of the Buddha that led to bliss. Happiness in Buddhism is the culmination of all of our interactions with those around us, as well as our bodily and mental well-being, environmental vitality, standard of living, and a host of other factors.


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