BHUTAN/  Thimphu 10/ 2006 Thimphu Tshechu: is a religious festival in honour of Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan in the 8th century. Day 3 of the 4 day festival taking place at the Tashichoedzong. ©Josef Polleross

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the overarching development philosophy of Bhutan. While economists worldwide aver that happiness can be achieved through material development, it’s not the case so in Bhutan.

GNH was most clearly enunciated by the Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, when he stated that ‘GNH is more important than GDP’. This development philosophy advocates that material or economical growth doesn’t necessarily contribute to happiness, and that there are many dimensions to development and that economic growth goals alone are insufficient.

Besides the economical aspects, GNH emphasizes giving equal importance to spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the people in the society. GNH, therefore, purports that socioeconomic development must contribute to both material and spiritual wellbeing in the society.

Simply, while the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, Bhutan advocates that GDP does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people.