Bhutan: The World’s Happiest Country

Gross National Happiness In Bhutan: The Big Idea From A Tiny State That Could Change The World

(SSG) In a world driven by industry and profit, there is one country leading the way in promoting happiness, family values and pushing the idea of a monetised society out of their way of lives.

This is a familiar site across the stunning Kingdom of Bhutan. Smiling school children, happy families and positive energies being shared among one another. With one of the worlds smallest and least developed economies, yet with happiness rates rising to over 91% among its residents, it is clear to see that money definitely does not buy you happiness.


In 2012, a high level UN meeting took place on “Happiness and Well-being” which was chaired by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley. This resulted in him declaring gross national happiness (GNH) as the country’s new development plan as opposed to the gross domestic product (GDP), making Bhutan the first and so far only nation to make this transition. He said:

“I think it is the responsibility of governments, upon having been elected and made responsible for improving the well-being of the people, to create conditions to enable citizens to achieve what they want most in life, and that is happiness.” [Source]

This is exactly what the idea of democracy is supposed to represent and this needs to be recognised a lot more around the world in order to create a global society where its dwellers are seeking contentment over finance, truth over corruption and compassion over competition. GNH reflects a much richer goal than GDP, this is not to say that material wealth is not important, but puts more emphasis on the need for things like:

  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Community
  • Culture
  • Harmony with the environment
  • Knowledge and wisdom
  • Psychological well-being
  • Balancing use of time effectively

In 2004, Bhutan held an international seminar on GNH. According to the permanent mission of Bhutan in the UN, since the 2004 seminar the GNH became a standard in Bhutan and “a bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality, and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth.”

The first official GNH pilot survey was conducted in 2006-2007 which showed that over 68% of Bhutan’s people were happy and rated income, family, health and spirituality as their most important requirements for happiness.


So far the idea seems to be working and the rise in gross national happiness across Bhutan has also given way to a small rise in its economy, where their ultimate goal is to fully invest in hydroelectric energy.

This is a fantastic example of a democratic society where the potential of every resident is recognised and allowed to flourish, if only more countries could take a leaf out of Bhutan’s book…the world would genuinely be a better, happier, cleaner place.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.


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