Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why are the People of Bhutan not as Happy as Before?

Takstan monastery, Bhutan-from Wikipedia

Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, coined the phrase gross national happiness (GNH) in 1972.  He used this phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.  The Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined happiness with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality.

However, according to the first ever World Happiness Report, commissioned for the April 2nd United Nations Conference on Happiness, Bhutan is not among the top 10: 

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Netherlands
5. Canada
6. Switzerland
7. Sweden
8. New Zealand
9. Australia
10. Ireland

According to a report by Business week, Bhutan was ranked No.8 at the world’s happiest countries in 2008. As of 2010, 41% {two years ago it was 74%} of Bhutanese are identified as happy, with the rest of the population hitting sufficient levels of satisfaction in 59% of the surveyed categories.

Why are they not as happy as before?

There is a clash of culture. According to a news item, tourists were restricted to 3500 persons per year to enter their country in order to preserve their own culture. When Bhutan opens its door freely to tourism, the people has found out they live in an undeveloped nation. So they have decided to imitate the lifestyle of the west by buying more cars and building bigger houses. Life seems to be improved but they do not find the happiness they used to enjoy.

They have made two mistakes. They compare their life with other people. They try to attach happiness to material things. They have forgotten one important teaching of Buddhism:
知足常乐(zhi zu chang le). It means when you are contented, you are always happy.


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