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“The Kingdom of Bhutan’s approach to development is a little different than that of most other countries. Our approach to development is based on the belief that it must result in promoting happiness of the people. ” – Minister for home and cultural affairs, Bhutan.

Discover the Kingdom of Happiness. And although it may sound like a myth we are not referring to the title of a fairytale here. We are talking about a real and beautiful country in Asia situated at the foot of the Himalayas. A country that lists happiness as the top priority for governing its citizens. That may seem like Utopian, but in fact maybe we should learn from this idea and try to spread the word to the rest of the world.

Bhutan has, without doubt, one of the most pristine natural environments on the planet since the country has been secluded and closed off from the rest of the world for centuries. It is landlocked by the massive Himalayan peaks to the north while the rest of the country is surrounded by Sikkim and India. Bhutan is a devout Buddhist land and just like in neighboring Tibet, monks are held in high esteem. The centuries old custom that one son from each family enters into the monastic life, is still honored today.

Bhutan strictly regulates tourism; only a selected number of foreigners are allowed to visit the country each year. What really makes the country so special is that it measures its wealth not by economic growth and production or GPD but by GNH or Gross National Happiness. Bhutan has laid down this unorthodox way of governing its people since the king introduced the concept in the ’70’s. But what does this mean?

The GNH is measured by 9 different domains:
Psychological wellbeing, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.

The domains represent each of the pillars of wellbeing of the Bhutanese people, and the term ‘wellbeing’ here means fulfilling the conditions of a ‘good life’ according to the values and principles laid down by the concept of Gross National Happiness.
In layman’s talk, this means they do not focus so much on economic growth, industrialization, money and material stuff but rather they look at the spiritual and holistic approach to living a fulfilling life with deep respect for nature and preservation of it. Watch the video for a short overview of this extraordinary concept.

And if you would like to know how that is being translated in day to day life, take a look at the 10 paths to happiness from Bhutan.

1. Spend time with nature
2. Enjoy the gift of music
3. Find the company of good friends
4. Learn from the children
5. Eat healthy food
6. Nature, spend more time with it
7. Don’t forget to play
8. Find your answers in solitude
9. Experience the power of prayer
10. Bridge a new understanding of life

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