As a progressive society, Bhutan puts considerable emphasis on the idea of human wellbeing and happiness. The state believes that it has a moral duty to create necessary conditions for its citizenry to pursue happiness.
As a result of this quest, Bhutan has given the world the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The idea is to avoid excessive consumption and remain grounded to the ideals of a just and harmonious society. It also aims at balancing material and spiritual pursuits.
The fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck championed the idea of GNH when he declared in 1972 that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of socio-economic progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
The Bhutanese government has carefully formulated plans and policies that are aimed at enhancing people’s wellbeing and maximizing their happiness. According to a 2015 GNH Survey initiated by the government, more than 90 percent of the Bhutanese are happy.
As the idea of GNH spread across the globe and many developed and developing countries started including happiness and wellbeing in their development programs, Bhutan went a step further by creating a GNH Index, a measurement tool for policymaking and monitoring. The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health, and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing.
In recent years, with the concept becoming more popular and global, 20 March has been declared as the World Happiness Day.