The Himalayan nation of Bhutan is famous for its government policy of measure progress not by Gross National Product, but by Gross National Happiness. The brainchild of former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, it puts the well-being of the general population at the forefront of national policy.
Of course this is an ideal, and Bhutan is a poor country. A recent series of suicides has shocked the nation and now the government is planning a Gross National Happiness center to help improve the people’s morale.
The Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley has already visited the proposed site, a 45 acre pine forest, and said in a newspaper interview that the center would, “become home for the promotion and practice of happiness, by establishing a facility where people from all walks of life can come and stay to imbibe the sense of happiness.”
Bhutan is a favorite destination for trekkers and adventure travelers attracted by the beautiful and rugged mountains and traditional lifestyle, perfectly captured in one of our old Photo of the Day entries. For more photos of Bhutan, check out BluePeak’s excellent series of images on Flickr, such as this one showing a monk who seems to have his happiness in order.
Here’s hoping that travelers will soon have a place to practice improving their own happiness.