In 1998, the tiny Asian nation of Bhutan invented the concept of Gross National Happiness. This creative social yardstick was introduced as a way to draw attention to the quality of life in the remote country, as it was unable to compete with world powers on traditional measures like Gross Domestic Product. Bhutan's traditional lifestyle and culture, rooted in the Buddhist concepts of compassion, contentment and calmness, naturally prioritize Gross National Happiness over more materialistic pursuits. Although youth unemployment hovers around 13%, Bhutan offers its citizens free education and healthcare, and in some cases, gifts of land for subsistence farming. With their basic needs met, the Bhutanese seem to revel in low-maintenance state of contentment.
Is the key to happiness found in prioritizing compassion, contentment and calmness? Compassion allows us to overlook and forgive the constant stream of minor daily indignities from everyday jerks. It lets us imagine that the woman glaring at us in the grocery line is just mentally scripting a take-down of her unreasonable boss, allowing us to go along our merry way unburdened by her scowl. Contentment keeps us off the hedonic treadmill and encourages us to love what we already have. And calmness allows us to respond with patience and kindness when our loved ones are driving us batshit crazy. Seeking the 3C's of Buddhism seems a worthy pursuit that may increase our Gross National Happiness too.
Are we feeling calm yet?
Three more on the topic:
The "More Strategy" versus the "Enough Strategy" and pursuing contentment instead of happiness
Compassion is better than empathy
What to say to an angry person instead of "calm down!"
Compassion photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash
Contentment photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash