Happiness is something that every individual wants to achieve and is in constant search of. We read many articles on happiness and what one has to say about it. Every individual or a country has their own understanding and reasoning for happiness. It is so much so that many of the countries including Bhutan have come up with models/frameworks to quantify and measure happiness. These are essentials, as it provides a clear direction towards pursuit of happiness but these framework/model are useful at a broader or policy level but for laymen like us, the understanding of happiness is different. We just think of happiness on few simple things, of course these factors differ from person to person but for me amongst many reason, I believe Bhutan and Bhutanese are one of the happiest people on the planet because of these simple reasons:
If you look at Bhutan’s history, it was unified by our Kings and still today it does so.
All our Kings, past and present are very different from other Kings around the world. For a small country like Bhutan, peace, stability and security are the most important things needed especially being sandwiched between the two giants. Looking from this point of view, surviving the colonization age, world wars and external aggression, our small country has survived all, it is because of our King’s wise leadership and foresightedness and this is why we Bhutanese still today enjoy stability and security resulting in peace and happiness.
“Because at the end of the day no matter what problems or difficulties we have, when we look at the picture of our kings, it gives us hope, happiness and courage to overcome all our problems”
For people coming from outside, you may find it unusual to see picture of a Person (our Kings) on every home, shop or office and even on our Gho (Dress) but it is there because we Bhutanese understand the values, the sacrifices and love that our kings have given to the people and for these reasons as a symbol of respect, peace and hope we proudly put it because at the end of the day no matter what problems or difficulties we have, when we look at the picture of our kings, it gives us hope, happiness and courage to overcome all our problems. I guess this is what happiness in simple terms means to look at a unifying figure and know for sure that tomorrow will be even better.
Second reason is our tall mountains, you may call it seclusion or isolation but the fact is our mountains are our great wall, our protector, our life saver. We Bhutanese depend and survive on it. If it weren’t for the mountains, we would not have achieved the economic growth we see today from the hydropower sector. The income that we generate from rivers through hydropower, which is a product of our mountains, has helped us improved our living standard, increased our happiness and all in all changed our life for better.
Our clean environment which we proudly cherish today and the so called ‘carbon negative’ we talk about today, is all a product of our mountains and the wish leadership we have. The sound of the birds chirping in morning, musk dear crossing road, snow leopard and tiger with their cubs high up in the mountains is all because of the mountains. It is home to all sentinel being and mother to everyone that seeks shelter on it. It nourishes on the four elements of nature and in turn nourishes us with the essence of life from it.
If you hike high up in the mountains and spend couple of minutes in silence, you will realize that there is something magical about it that poise us to calm our mind down. The thin air, the clear sky and the lushes trees, just make us feel a part of it. Your mind just feels calm, quite and serene being in the mountains and wonder what life is all about. I guess for this very reason being nurtured by the mountains, we Bhutanese are quite calm people.
The other is our family. Family in Bhutanese society has been the foundation of our stability. We live in a cohesive and well-knitted family structure where we rely on our family for all most everything, in times of happiness, sorrow and difficulties. We Bhutanese are family people because we know relationship is strength and strength bring happiness.
“We know in the end, family and relationship can’t be bought and what cant be brought brings true happiness”
Our children receives the care and love of our grandparents and our parents receives same from us, when we follow this circle there is something about it that makes us a compassionate human being who understands and values life because at the end of the day, everyone of us has a child in us who needs love, care and affection.
I think this maybe the reason why we bhutanese may choose eating a simple picnic lunch next to a river on a bright sunny day with once family, over eating an expensive lunch in the highest building in the world, Bhurj Khalifa, because we know in the end, family and relationship can’t be bought and what cant be brought brings true happiness.
Value is something that is intangible and that is what we Bhutanese have in abundant not because we are born with it but because we are nurtured with it. From childhood, we are told of believes and stories of goodness and positivity that has become a part of us, some taught by our schools and some by our families.
One such value is ‘Tha Damtshi’. This is one of the most important values that are taught to us, the value of ‘Tha Damtshi’ or to simply put it ‘loyalty and dedication’ as said by His Majesty. We are taught to show allegiance to those who have been good to us during our successes and fidelity to those who stood by us during our failures. These believe has helped us in creating a vicious circle where most of the people in general are kind and helpful to each other.
The other value we are told of is Karma. We believe that everything is interconnected and interdependent and no man is an island just like the ‘four friends’ picture shown above. We believe that when we do harm, hatred follows likewise when we do good, goodness follows. When we believe this, positivity and goodness is created in our mind allowing us to think and act good towards others. This creates repelling effects of positivity and goodness in general creating conducive happy environment.
The third value is the value of positivity. We believe that everything happens for a reason, good or bad. When we encounter bad events, we Bhutanese simply accept it and say that it is good in some ways because all our sins and unforeseen future bad events will be washed away. We try to look at things from a positive angle and accept our weakness and faults whatever that comes in the way. This in a way helps us to maintain our cool and mindful happiness intact.
I know there may be 100s of other reasons why Bhutan is one of the happiest place, but if you look closely there is only few elements that is actually contributing towards happiness. My reasons may be simple or bias but this is just a perspective of a simple Bhutanese individual that you could read or even better reflect.
Article written by: Golden Valley Bhutan