Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gross National Happiness

Just back from an amazing journey to the Magical Kingdom of Bhutan.
It's such a remarkable place for so many reasons.

Just a few years back it was considered one of the most isolated nations in the world. Recent developments with technology including direct international flights, the Internet, mobile phone networks, and cable television have increasingly modernized the urban areas of the country. However, Bhutan has balanced modernization with its ancient culture and traditions under the guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Through skilled foresight and lack of greed, rampant destruction of the environment has been avoided. The government takes great measures to preserve the nation's traditional culture, identity and the environment. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world. I believe it...as everywhere we went we were greeted by happy and satisfied Bhutanese folks. From the yak herders to the store owners to the children in the villages. Everyone seems to be content and genuinely proud to be Bhutanese.

They've really figured it out. Most of the folks I spoke to were confident that this fragile balance between modernization and traditional identity and values will be securely in place for at least another decade or so...after that, they say...unclear. Everyone is hoping the up and coming generation will maintain the historical balance and continue to preserve the purity of this amazing place.

I hope so. I will absolutely go back...again and again. And hopefully this tiny little country, sandwiched between the superpowers of China and India will be able to continue holding it's colorful core values and snub the greed that infests the rest of the world.