Several years ago now I attended a global healing conference in Bali, Indonesia. One of the speakers was the Finance Minister from Bhutan. He spoke about Bhutan’s GNH or Gross National Happiness Index versus the Gross National Product/Gross Domestic Product we have based on an entirely different paradigm/frame of reference.
In this mostly Buddhist country you will see a series of hand-painted signs doting the side of the winding mountain road that runs between the airport and the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. Instead of commands to cut speed or check mirrors, they offer the traveler a series of life-affirming mantras. “Life is a journey! Complete it!” says one, while another urges drivers to, “Let nature be your guide”. Another, standing on the edge of a perilous curve, simply says: “Inconvenience regretted.”
The Finance Minister told us that since 1971, Bhutan has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.
In other words there is a belief that well being should take preference over material growth. As our world collapses under the breakdown of financial systems, social injustice and wide-scale environmental destruction and degradation we may need to take this way of perceiving life under serious consideration! In fact, let it be the operating system from which we live our lives!!
What is happiness anyway? I could go on for pages and philosophize about the answer to this question, but when it comes right down to it everyone finds the answer within themselves and in everyday lift moments.
So, I won’t go on for pages, but instead am giving you a video to watch that I would like to encourage you to share with many others. After watching it (and wiping the tears away – have kleenex ready) perhaps you will be inspired to do a similar practice. We couldn’t see the people on the other end of the phone, but I bet they were just as similarly affected as those we could see.
Would love your comments on this one! Especially if you try it out….
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by Richard Cawte, Ph.D.