Today is International Happiness Day. Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. In 2015 the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to wellbeing and happiness.
This has me thinking about the work I’ve done in Bhutan regarding their Gross National Happiness Index. Bhutan is one of the world’s newest democracies and it is running a really important experiment. Instead of just measuring economic success based on overall growth and the size of the economy (e.g. Gross Domestic Product), Bhutan is being much more intentional and considering what kind of growth it wants. Of course they are working to grow jobs and income, but not at the cost of destroying their culture and natural environment.
Some cynics scoff at the idea and brush it off as quaint and trivial, but that is a mistake. The Gross National Happiness Index is actually a robust set of metrics that are used to make real world economic and societal decisions. Governmental infrastructure and budget decisions are run through four overarching criteria:
- Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development
- Environmental conservation
- Preservation and promotion of culture
- Good governance
The values of wellbeing, environmental protection, and cultural promotion are imbedded into early learning programs and schools as well as governmental processes. For example, I was amazed when I learned that young children in schools in Bhutan do a regular mindfulness practice. The teachers help them to get quiet and meditative for a few minutes each day. They call it “Mental Flossing” as in the mental hygeine equivalent of dental flossing. In other words getting yucky stuff out of our minds is just as important as getting yucky stuff out of our mouths!
In a fun twist this year the Smurfs teemed up with the U.N. to put their blue enthusiasm into International Happiness Day. Here is a Smurfy video about it.
I am delighted that there will be several representatives for the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan at the New Economy for Social Innovation Forum that I will be speaking at in Spain next month. And I just learned that at the forum there will be an unveiling of a new GNH Center for Spain and Latin America. Outstanding!
#3EStrategies #CylviaHayes #NewEconomy