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Gross National Happiness or Giving National Happiness?

Susan studied Economics in 1989 it was put forward that economics leads to happiness. Yet when working in 400 companies over a decade it was clear that many people worked to live rather than be happy.  Even those who were famous or rich were not happy. It was clear that money doesn’t buy you happiness no matter how you market it.  Yet you can feel on top of the world flying wherever you want on a lear jet and making things happen and feeling important but when it is all said and done, are you happy?

Bhutan has free medical and education. the country is covered by forests. They preserve their animals.  Their culture is based on Buddhist values.  They have a Minister for Happiness.  They learned to be happy with what they have.

Bhutan became known for creating the Gross National Happiness Index. This country is south of China and borders India and Nepal.  According to Milan Thomas, Yangchen C. Rinzin Bhutan is a small, landlocked kingdom with an outsized profile on the global stage due to its unique development philosophy. The country has a centuries-long history of viewing happiness as a core responsibility of government. The Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index was formally adopted as a development indicator in Bhutan’s 2008 Constitution and  up until last year, Bhutan’s tourism slogan was “Happiness is a Place.” March 20 is International Day of Happiness, a global celebration of happiness organized by the United Nations.

How many celebrated the International Day of Happiness?  Happiness is the real wealth of all nations as no amount of money or prosperity can fake the feeling of happiness. Yes we want to not be languishing in poverty but travelling around the world revealed the poorest people were often the most generous and happy.  They were keen to talk and welcome you.  In the West we lost that feeling of trust, joy and generosity as we now fit cameras to watch for imagined thieves as a statement of distrust as we believe fear is real when in fact FEAR means false evidence appearing real. Those in poorer nations were in actual fact not poor but lived simply and had a sense of who they are (culture).  This was called poverty by the West the monied economy has become an indicator of wealth connected to wellbeing but in truth wellbeing is declining as we become enmeshed in activity that does not make us feel happy.  How can you enjoy your life if you are too busy.  You have no time for your family, your interests or to simply sit and do nothing.  Our nature is not 24/7 work, it is about expressing our potential and building our strengths to become the best we can be.

In Australia when I was a child we had free education, public transport, medical care, emergency services, police, roads and infrastructure and so on.  Today our country is now privatised and government provision of services are now contracted out to multinational private sector interests.  The happiness of our people is declining.  This has been particularly notable since Covid-19.  It was evident people were divided, isolated and happiness plummeted as people were frightened by disease, loss of jobs, restrictions, loss of freedom, and a sense of isolation (social distancing) and mental health surfaced.  Many felt the future is uncertain as one drama comes after another was reported. 

The media has to take responsibility for their non-stop fear, war, violence creating insecurity in those who watch.  The politicians have to look at the narratives they are airing which are causing more fear not less.  I no longer have a television, I seldom watch social media and I live my life independent and simply so others can simply live.  I am very aware of the problems having researched most of them as an analyst.  Today I choose happiness as what we have done in the past does not work and lessons were not clearly learned.  We will not achieve utopia or prosperity on trajectories that still divide people and do not value each person as reflections of ourselves.  Happiness is a ‘felt’ condition that is about truth, you know you are on track as you feel this joy.  Money can’t do it for you as it is outside of you, what really brings happiness to you is to Know Yourself and express that joy of who you are to others.  You will be amazed what happens.

The reality is that happiness is an inside job and it has more to do with being and doing that which brings true happiness not pleasing others.  Happiness and pleasure are different.  Joy is an inner feeling you get when you know you are happy, you just smile at everyone.

Wikipedia provide an insight into the economics of happiness, what do you think is this happiness?

The economics of happiness or happiness economics is the quantitative and theoretical study of happiness, positive and negative affect, well-being, quality of life, life satisfaction and related concepts, typically combining economics with other fields such as psychology and sociology. It typically treats such happiness-related measures, rather than wealth, income or profit, as something to be maximized. The field has grown substantially since the late 20th century, for example by the development of methods, surveys and indices to measure happiness and related concepts.[1]

Perhaps the real measure of happiness is loss of fear, vibrant health and feeling love for life and people.  When we are happy we give naturally.  As clowns people gave to us when they realised we were making others happy and not paid, they were surprised.

WellBeing and Gross National Happiness

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous.
That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor”.

Paul Hawken

Wellbeing is a term we hear more and more these days. Wellbeing crosses physical, mental and spiritual areas. Wellbeing is the outcome of balance. In ecology it is homeostasis (balance).  We are part of nature not separate from it.

Positive community, nutrition and exercise are critical to wellbeing as a healthy mind produces a healthy body produces a healthy community.  Our mental wellbeing is the real indicator of happiness which is balance.

Natural wellbeing is positive thoughts generated by a natural life that feels the unity of mind, body and spirit. A feeling that gives you REAL HOPES for the future.  Remember REAL HOPES are the invisible values that drive real inner strength – Responsibility, empathy, awareness, love, honesty, oneness, peace, enjoyment and service.  These represent unity within.  You naturally move into wellbeing when you are feeling happy or at peace with yourself.

Happiness is that sense of knowing that all is right in the world no matter appearances. Your own sense of positivity affects others.  That is to say, you love what is, you may seek for a better future but you live in the moment and what is happening is happening as life is more like a boomerang, what you send out returns to you. 

Living in reality is the key to happiness.  Not a reality that you imagine, or someone tells you on the news but precisely what is happening in your life without a story of what it should or could be or complaints of how horrible the world is.  It is accepting life as it is for this is the reality in the moment.   In the future it may change. This welcomes whatever happens as life unfolds.  If it is not pleasant naturally we will choose a better scenario by our thoughts, words and actions.  If you don’t like it change yourself and watch your world change. 

You have the power to observe change from moment to moment. Imagine you decide or intend what you want rather than thinking you can’t do anything. You know that feeling of powerlessness, victim, beaten down and sense of being trapped. Self empowerment is about you envisaging the life you desire.  You get to choose rather than be the victim of life where you believe your happiness depends on others, it does not.

Here is a perspective again from wikipedia on wellbeing:

“Well-being or welfare is a general term for the condition of an individual or group, for example their social, economic, psychological, spiritual or medical state; high well-being means that, in some sense, the individual or group’s experience is positive, while low well-being is associated with the negative.

In economics, the term is used for one or more quantitative measures intended to assess the quality of life of a group, for example, in the capabilities approach and the economics of happiness. Like the related cognate terms ‘wealth‘ and ‘welfare’, economics sources may contrast the state with its opposite.[1] The study of well-being is divided in Subjective well-being and Objective well-being. In alternative spirituality, the term is used to describe a state of serenity and inner happiness or hauora. While there are several departments of “Well-being” in academic institutes, the term generally has a more holistic and broad context.”

In society it is important that wellbeing is enshrined in policies at all levels. It is important to encourage wellbeing in our lives: in our homes, family, community, schools, workplaces, and government. When people are balanced, we find more energy which unlocks both creativity and productivity with ease. It is about working emotionally intelligently, not necessarily harder.

In the workplace there is more discussion and action about work/life balance. Yet as technology increased we worked longer hours and the leisure society disappeared.  Susan wrote a paper on this subject at university.  Life sped up it didn’t give us more time to be in our own lives.

In the community more are discovering holistic techniques for healing imbalances, the active types love to focus on physical wellbeing in the fitness industry. That is why we are a sport crazy nation as secretly we crave community. We love to exercise as it feels good and we feel empowered.  A sedentary (not moving) life brings disease and unwellness.  Both modalities of healing and fitness improve mental health, wellbeing and GNH. 

Giving to live is a powerful decision as it sends a message that you are abundant, you have something to give.  Those who take are always feeling the poverty (emptiness), that is why there is never enough even when millionaires.  They never full-fill themselves by giving focus to what they truly enjoy or love and then giving it to others.  The magic of this is it returns to self as the signal of abundance returns when it is given. Giving as National Happiness is the real meaning behind GNH. I am sure the Bhutanese would agree.

In respect of mental health, clowns go into hospitals to meet the patients and shift their sadness. Life in hospital can be boring, noisy and depressing.  We believe in what Patch Adams says:  laughter as the best medicine”. So we make jokes, play with people and bring some colour into their lives even if for a brief moment. Laughter naturally releases endorphins are the body’s natural highs and when people laugh they lift their immune system.  This can change a life if a person sees the clowns as a positive omen or perhaps a smile makes a person feel included.  This is how you make a difference.  I recall a doctor at the CMC Hospital in Vellore, India, he thought the clowns were a waste of time, but others were so thrilled to have them come through. He saw medicine as making the difference, but I know of children who never forgot the clown and when a clown strategically positioned a bear on the bed prior to the operating theatre, the child new she would survive. The power of the mind’s desire to live cannot be underestimated.

Human happiness is what we all live for.  We sometimes forget that the simple act of kindness can be the most important moment in a person’s life.  An old lady told me “you made my whole day dear“.  I smiled.

On the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program I was told by a Catholic Priest in Rayong in Southern Thailand that when he helped women with HIV Aids he used humour, he found some went into remission. So laughter and happiness is one element to wellbeing and healing, it is very important.

Gross National Happiness as Wellbeing in our society is not only important it must become a national priority.