The Fourth Druk Gyelpo introduced the Gross National Happiness in the 1970s.
Organisations such as Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH research, and GNH commission exist for better policy planning and research. The need to implement the values rooted in equity, humanity and kindness is seen as crucial.
Under the patronage of her Royal Highness Princess Kesang Choden Wangchuck, the GNH Centre Bhutan (GNHCB) was initiated in 2012. With several members on board from the former government, the initiation was aimed at a transformative change towards a more meaningful, sustainable and happier life across Bhutan.
As the human race continue to plunder earth’s resources at the pace that outstrips its capacity to support life, many countries have come to accept the holistic approach towards development.
The centre’s international programmes highlight the importance of incorporating GNH in daily living activities and development.
Executive Director of GNHCB, Saamdu Chetri, said that GNH isn’t anti-gross domestic product (GDP). “Incorporating GNH would mean to move forward with the technological development, which exist right now in a sustainable manner.”
Designed by the GNH centre and Humankind Enterprise and Digital Storyteller, Australia, slow change programme is one of the international programmes. The programme provides an immersive experience of positive development and wisdom to create change in ways to serve their higher values and the needs of the communities. Nineteen participants from Australia, Germany, Netherlands and the UK took part in the slow change experience progamamme.
Sustainable brand conference held on September this year offered a unique learning opportunity to reflect on how to put happiness into living practice and balancing economic growth with the deeper inner values of society
Through the centre, the first GNH youth leadership programme was initiated last year with 23 participants – 12 international and 9 national. The participants came together to deepen the practical understanding of how they could bring more compassion and wisdom to personal lives and the communities through the values and GNH.
Similarly, journey through GNH provided a platform to experience GNH principles in daily life and to reflect on how to implement these principles in their own context. The participants across the world were made to reflect on purpose of life and progress under the values of GNH. It is a programme that takes place four times a year.
Programmes such as the right livelihood lasts for 12 months. A yearly collaborative programme between the GNH centre Bhutan and Schumacher College, London aims to develop through experiential understanding of GNH by living in, and co-creating conducive environment that is fully aligned with GNH principles and values. Eighteen participants from Sweden, Austria, Japan, Norway, Brazil, USA, UK, Colombia, and Germany participated in the programme last year.
Saamdu Chetri said that the centre asks pertinent questions such as the resources used in the manufacturing and the product’s benefits to the people. “We try and look at the society and the planet, when addressing the common developmental issues.”
Last year, a GNH centre was established in Thailand. Similarly, several countries have started to adopt the values of GNH in development and living.
International programmes are ways to generate fund for the centre. When the centre registered as a civil society organisation in October 18, 2012, the centre had limited financial support.
“We were supposed to do more than what we are doing today. The whole idea was grounded for the people of Bhutan and not meant for the people outside. The idea was to receive fund from the government and help farmers, people at the urban areas, stressed civil servants and generally the public of Bhutan,” Saamdu Chetri said.
GNH values are widely expressed and known by the people of Bhutan. However, Saamdu Chetri said that Bhutanese are far behind in adopting the values of GNH. To promote GNH in the country, the centre had initiated programmes for the students, youth and tourists in understanding and adopting GNH in Bhutan.
The programmes worked towards understanding interdependence through a transformative approach through GNH, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.
Last year, in an effort to raise national awareness on the importance of wellbeing and happiness, the GNHCB initiated the first ever GNH fair. Themed ‘celebrating wellbeing and happiness’, the fair promoted meditation, yoga, dance, panic healing, and other interactive activities to encourage a participatory audience to actually experience wellness. The GNH fair will be an annual event led by the GNHCB.
During the International Happiness Day the centre engaged 186 students of a central school in Sarpang, teaching interdependence and self-reflection.
International Happiness Day is celebrated on March 20. The day was first started in 2013 as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.
Empowering people through compassion and wisdom towards a mindful and happy and society.
To create a unique place of reflection, learning and action where nature, culture and spirituality blend in a harmonious way towards happiness and compassion for the world.
GNH in action: The purpose of the Centre is to demonstrate and put into living practice the philosophy Gross National Happiness.
The Centre aims to embody and manifest in living practice, the principles of GNH in every aspect of its physical infrastructure, programmes and processes. The Centre focuses on the following programmes:
Engage in transformative experiential processes through dialogue, introspection and self-reflection, leading to a deeper understanding of GNH philosophy, principles and values.
Share a living experience of GNH by co-creating a conducive environment fully aligned with all GNH principles and values.
Create a mindfulness based, action-oriented learning community for profound personal and societal innovation and transformation.