For those who may not know, Bhutan is a country in Southeast Asia that is just south of China. The country is known for being really small and for being really happy. How do they do it? Let us check out some of the things they do differently that make them so happy.
1. They manage spiritual and material happiness equally
Here in the western world, we put way too much stock into the things we own. We’re happier when we have the latest iPhone or the latest fashion. That’s not a very good way to think and it can cause us unneeded stress and unhappiness when we can’t afford those things. In Bhutan, they only let globalization affect them over the last ten years but they have done so in a manner that allows their citizens to balance their material possessions and their spirituality and that just makes them happier. They don’t care if they don’t have the latest iPhone. They’re just happy to be alive.
2. They have among the fastest growing GDPs in the world
When people are making money, everyone’s happy. Bhutan’s GDP (gross domestic product) has been growing steadily over the last several years. By allowing India to invest heavily in hydro-power in their country, Bhutan is quickly becoming rich and they don’t have to do that much work. Talk about managing your resources well!
3. They don’t care about TV, radio, or the internet
Lets face it, those things make us feel terrible about ourselves. On TV, we see beautiful people making dump trucks full of money and that makes us jealous and angry. On the internet there are trolls, a constant influx of bad news, and all sorts of other bad things. We get obsessed with social media and get upset when we don’t get re-tweets or likes on Facebook. When you don’t have to deal with that nonsense, life is generally better.
4. 50% of the country is protected as a national park
The environment is an important thing to the Bhutan people. So much so that half of their country is a national park. The forest, animals, and environment are strictly protected and the country announced not long ago that 60% of their country would be safe from things like deforestation permanently. Caring that much for the planet makes people feel happy.
5. They’re mostly Buddhist
Buddhism is one of the calmest and happiest religions on Earth. They believe in karma. The Buddhist version of karma (the original definition) is that people who live good lives are closer to enlightenment and are reincarnated as better creatures when they’re reborn. This prompts them to live good lives, do good deeds to one another, and be good people. When people aren’t at each others’ throats, it makes those around them generally happier.
6. They actually measure their own happiness
It’s always nice when the government lends a helping hand but when was the last time any of us actually believed our government wanted us to be happy? In Bhutan this is not something people have to wonder. Their government actually measures their countries happiness using a metric called the Gross National Happiness or GNH. They’re not perfect at providing happiness to their citizens but the fact that they acknowledge and measure happiness probably makes them better at keeping their people happy than other governments.
7. Where they live is gorgeous
Bhutan is situated in the Himalayan Mountains and well over 60% of their country is untouched wilderness. People go to places like this for vacation. We imagine that living there is probably more preferable, peaceful, and visually enjoyable than stomping around the concrete jungle that is the city every day.
8. The gap between normal people and royalty isn’t that far
Thanks to their isolationist tendencies, the people of Bhutan are very close to one another. In one journalist’s visit, he spied a young man playing basketball with a bunch of kids on a public court. Later on he was introduced to that man and also played basketball with him. Much later it was revealed that the man was actually a prince of Bhutan. Joe Biden isn’t out shooting basketball with a bunch of random local kids. That kind of closeness between the high and low classes probably helps everyone like everyone more.
9. They’re well rested
According to national surveys, around 2/3 of all Bhutanese people get at least eight hours of sleep per night. That’s a lot better than most countries and that’s especially true of industrialized countries. The benefits of sleep on happiness, productivity, and overall health is extremely well documented. Having most of the country get a bunch of sleep definitely contributes and having a culture that inspires people to get the appropriate amount of sleep every night is something they do differently.
10. They have less pollution
One of the side effects of being so environmentally conscious is that the Bhutanese people live in less pollution than pretty much everyone else. They do have some things around that cause pollution such as automobiles. However, they lack the miles upon miles of factories and waste-producing businesses. This makes the air, water, and ground much cleaner. There is a reason why pictures of untouched wildernesses are so beautiful and desirable. It’s because they aren’t polluted with potentially harmful chemical fumes.
Bhutan is relatively new to the world at large because they chose to remain isolated long after everyone else had integrated themselves into the world. This has caused them to have some older values and some of them may seem outdated by today’s standards. Some of them may not even be morally or ethically correct. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things their older values can’t teach us!