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Gross national happiness: A look at Bhutan

Friday, March 08, 2013 by: Eric L. Zielinski
Tags: happiness, Bhutan, culture

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(NaturalNews) Officials in the growing country of Bhutan in southern Asia have found that in the pursuit of economic development, people and society lose their culture, environment, and their social systems leading to significant problems. Bhutan has said, "That is not enough," to this way of life according to Dasho Kinley Dorji, Ministry of Information and Communication. In an interview in the documentary "Happy," Dorji states that "GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is not enough. Humanity needs a higher goal for development and that is Gross National Happiness (GNH). We believe that this contentment, this happiness, lies within the 'self' and there is no external source. A faster car, a bigger house, more fashionable clothes are not going to give you that contentment. They might give you fleeting pleasure, but not contentment....Gross National Happiness is important in that it makes us think about what we do; of ourselves as individuals, of society, of the world. To think rationally, think holistically, think spiritually."

Secluded Bhutan

Bhutan is an ancient culture secluded high in the Himalayas just south of Tibet. The current population is approximately 750,000 - about the size of San Francisco. With a history dating back 1,400 years, their origin can be traced to tribes from northern Burma and northeast India. This diverse background has created a very eclectic culture. The Bhutanese are a people with unique customs and deeply held beliefs. To keep their traditional culture alive, they wear traditional clothing that has been worn for centuries. Men wear a "gho," a long robe tied around the waist by a small belt called a "kera," and women wear a "kira," a ankle-length dress made from beautiful colors and finely woven fabrics. To protect their sacred traditions, Bhutan has tight restrictions on tourism. Only 64,000 tourists were allowed to visit the country in 2011 and the numbers in the future are not expected to increase. They consider it "safeguarding their treasures." Bhutan is the only country in the world to retain the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion. The Buddhist faith has played a key role in their culture, social and ethical foundation. It permeates every aspect of secular life. The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat and poultry, dairy, rice, and vegetables.

According to Dorji,"Gross National Happiness is the responsibility of the government to create an environment where citizens can pursue happiness." In terms of environment, the law says that 60 percent of Bhutan must always be forest. In terms of culture, their monasteries and schools are preserved and protected from development. Subsequently, the Bhutanese government has established rules of dress, language, and architecture to create this environment.

Bhutan has only recently pursued GNH and time will tell how successful they will be.

Sources for this article include:

Shadyac T (Producer), & Belic R (Director). (2001). Happy [Motion picture]. United States: Documentary.

About the author:
Eric L. Zielinski, DC (c), MPH (c) has devoted his life to natural health and wellness for over a decade. Inspired by the timeless principles in the Bible, Eric's mission is to seek out ways to provide people with simple, evidenced-based tools that they need to achieve the Abundant Life. Formally trained as a chiropractor, Eric's primary approach is to serve his patients and clients through natural health care, nutrition counseling, spiritual mentorship, and empowering life strategies!

Eric is available for long distance consultations and wellness coaching to help YOU reach your health goals. For more information click here or visit his website www.DrEricZ.com.
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