GNH is …

Do you have a favorite GNH quote? Or an anecdote on Gross National Happiness? If so, please share them here. It will help me prepare for an upcoming conference.


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  1. linda Wangmo says

    I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

    There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadnes

  2. GNH is like urself getting paid for no work

  3. GNH is when certain people who fail to deliver gets undue recognition and appointments. GNH for kaylon who gets appointed as SC judge after retirement. There is a very strong rumour that Dasho dawa tshering – ex-DG of forestry retired for failures may be appointed as the head of NEC-national Environment Commission. Whats happening in Bhutan. Aren’t there enough capable people in the ranks that can move up the ladder that we ahve to keep bringing back out dated people in front lines. Are we doomed ?


  5. What is GNH? It is Gross National Happiness in a simplest term….but the word “GROSS” here should stand out prominently and literally it means “ALL” and thereby combining the two, it makes HAPPINESS for ALL. But are we all happy with what is happening in the country? Including yourself, I think we are not at all happy with what is happening with the government. And when people are not happy even with some illogical appointments, how can we expect to see “ALL” our people HAPPY with the overall developments? This way the concept that we are trying to reach out to the world in itself is a total failure at the doorsteps. We cannot instill the sense of GNH to others and it will just remain as a distant dream twinkling in the world of darkest gloom.

    Your honor, this must be of your interest too, does our government ever think of embarking on having a research institute in the country, where our people could become so innovative and resourceful? We have so many brainy and wise people like yourself (frank opinion your honor)in our country. We have the potentials, but i simply don’t understand why can’t we make use of our own human resource for most of the works in Bhutan. Our assumptions would be totally wrong if we simply say we don’t have the capacity to do even now. The problem is, we don’t think over it collectively. If only all our brains could converge and culminate at one point, be creative, and if policies are framed collectively (without segregating ruling and opposition party of the government), GNH is just there within each one of us…after all it is simply the happiness for all.

    Your honor, as a leader and bureaucrat what can you say about the development status in Bhutan? Aren’t we still dependent on third country for almost everything? Don’t you see some potentials for Bhutan in terms of our own economy? Don’t you think we could do certain things by ourselves? For instance, Bhutan is and has been an agrarian economy since time immemorial but what expertise do we have? and now we have started boasting about being the pioneer in GNH. Isn’t this a food for thought for all of us? Even for simple voucher, we depend on third country to print it…BMobile and Tcell can print this in our own country but we have been dependent on India even for the simplest work. How can our economy grow this way. when would be the time for Bhutan to grow herslef, if we keep depending on others. If necessity is the mother of invention, we should come up with research institutes of our own in the field of both science and social sciences so that this institutes can help government in policy formulation and guide through development. You as a Harvard graduate, this is a challenge for you, your honor. We need more insights (lhakthong in dzongkha) into our development strategies.

    Hon’ble O.L, I am a new comer in your forum and if I am leading you astray, I must beg your pardon. I have thought over this issue long time before and I wanted it to share through Kuenselonline forum but I thought it would serve no meaning there.

  6. GNH is the overall happiness that is not equal to the sum of personal happiness. In fact, personal happiness and GNH are more or less inversely proportional.

  7. GNH is for aristocrats.
    GNH is for elites.

    GNH is not for the poor.
    GNH is not for the humble people without influential background.

  8. Reflection says

    GDP/GNP model of development leads to dog-eat-dog world. Growth of GNH corresponds to a growth in quality of life. This is how I look at it. Of course implementation is the key.

    Also if I may make a small comment on the issue raised by “Choden” above. Yes Choden, in general I definitely agree that we would like to see right people in the right post; we would like to see consistency in the application of rules across the board. Lack of consistency is an unspoken concern shared by many today-it simply discourages beautiful minds and puts off committed people.

  9. GNH is development philisophy as clearly mentioned in CBS journal.

    OL, as i keep reading your blog, i understand you keep visiting your constituency. Do you find any change in peoples lives (two years ago and now), are they happier, have your campaign promises like rural electricity,water supplies, feeder roads, etc materialised, do they at least have access to BHU? Developing and making such basic needs available to the much needed is GNH for me.

    I believe every Bhutanese people have GNH DNA.GNH is like feeling, we don’t need somebody to teach. every one knows, thinks, interprets in different way but it gets wrong when it becomes individualistic.

  10. mediawatch says

    For me, GNH is a simple, human attempt at deconstructing the sophisticated nuances of happiness into a visible, practical everyday experience.

  11. GNH is when certain people who fail to deliver gets undue recognition and appointments. GNH for kaylon who gets appointed as SC judge after retirement. There is a very strong rumour that Dasho dawa tshering – ex-DG of forestry retired for failures may be appointed as the head of NEC-national Environment Commission. Whats happening in Bhutan. Aren’t there enough capable people in the ranks that can move up the ladder that we ahve to keep bringing back out dated people in front lines. Are we doomed ?

  12. Once upon a time, a prince called Gautama was born somewhere in the present day Nepal. He had everything in his life but he found out that having everything in life led him to too much indulgence in all those mundane things and he could not meditate however much he tried. Finally he left his palace and went to a jungle. He undertook severe austere yoga and breath control for six years. He was determined to attain the supreme peace by practicing self-mortification. He abstained from taking food. He was reduced to a skeleton. He became exceedingly weak. At that moment, some dancing girls were passing that way singing joyfully as they played on their guitar. The song the girls sang had no real deep meaning for them, but for him it was a message full of profound spiritual significance. It was a spiritual song that took him out of his despair and infused him with great inspiration. The song was:
    “Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar is tuned,
    Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high,
    And we will dance away the hearts of men.
    The string overstretched breaks, the music dies,
    The string overslack is dumb and the music dies,
    Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high.”
    Gautama realized then that he should not go to extremes in torturing the body by starvation and that he should adopt the golden means or the happy medium or the middle path by avoiding extremes. Then he began to eat food in moderation. He gave up the earlier extreme practices and took to the middle path. He became enlightened and became a Buddha. What do we learn from this?
    We learn that even to attain Buddhahood itself, certain basic amenities of life are necessary to facilitate our practice on the path. We need to have wholesome meals to keep ourselves healthy and strong. We need to have proper basic shelters to protect ourselves from wild animals and other disturbances. We need to have decent clothes to keep ourselves warm. Otherwise, we will succumb to our hunger, cold, and diseases. We will have to yield to the overwhelming disturbances all around us. We will never reach the ultimate goal. Our endeavors will be just futile. So it is true with GNH. If we want to achieve GNH in our country, first build good roads, hospitals, schools and towns. Build good irrigation channels; distribute good quality seeds and manures and farming tools to our farmers. Improve the agriculture markets; reduce the transportation costs to bring in their products to the towns. Reform the government: make it really transparent, fair and efficient. Bust our corruption. Take hard stance on the crimes and the drug problems. Make our towns safe. Increase real jobs. Increase employment. Reduce unemployment. Improve the living standards of our people. Improve public transportation systems. Conserve our forests. Preserve our culture. Improve the quality of life of our rural people. And so on. That was just a few things our government can do. If not, don’t just teach GNH in our schools. It looks like forcing students to memorize Mao Zedong’s little ‘Red Book’ in the era of communist China under him!!

  13. Tashi Tenzin says

    GNH is condoning lacadaisical attitude by our public officials and expecting free lunches by our leaders from its electorate

  14. We know through the life story of Lord Buddha, through texts like the Word of my Perfect teacher, and also hear from great Buddhist masters that spiritual and worldly values are totally contradictory. This fact is something we simply have to accept. In the materialistic world, being ‘rich’ means you own plenty of property, run various businesses, and have a great deal of money. The spiritual world defines ‘rich’ as perfect contentment and points out that we are rich when we no longer torture our minds with thoughts about everything we lack.

    If we examine what it is that we really long for and desire, what it is that we struggle ceaselessly for, what it is that we pour all our efforts into trying to achieve, the vast majority of us will discover that above everything else, what we really hunger for is complete autonomy and total independence. Our ideal world is one in which we don’t have to rely on anyone or anything, where we’re never dictated to, where we never have to ask for favors and where there’s no one breathing down our necks.

    Basically, to be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. And it’s something we’d attempt virtually anything to achieve. I strongly feel that we need to redefine GNH in terms of this core issue affecting humankind and define ‘Happiness’ not from a short term goal oriented and temporal destination but through the Buddhist perspective.

    Hope this helps.

  15. First lets define the term EQUALITY before we debate over GNH.
    if it not were for equality then GNH would not be propagated.
    1) Equal treatment of equals- Are we humans all equal? when it comes to capability, creativity, wealth, and strength and many others. When every one is not equal, we cannot take the bunch in and treat them equal.Thus, the GNH model fails to take off from start.
    2) Unequal treatment of equals- When every human beings are unequal we cannot treat everyone equal.This is where GNH fails in terms of equality.If i am equal to Lyonpo, how am i expected to be treated unequal.i ought to be treated like him/her
    3) Equal treatment of Unequals- Then shall we treat every unequals equal? This is ridiculous. How is it possible to assume that there are all fools in the a country? It is not at all possible that we have every one unequal and thus be treated equal.
    4) Unequal treatment of Unequals- Then, is it that we treat all unequal and leave the equals?
    Does that justify the model of GNH? GNH must embrace the model of equality to ensure that every one is treated equally and thus be a society full of happiness.
    May be i am off the track for linking GNH and equality but the genesis of the Happiness is EQUALITY. We ougt to know more about EQUALITY AND GNH so that we strike a balance……

    god bless GNH

  16. For me, GNH is just a philosophy to be sold to gullible westerners. And for many in Bhutan, it could literally mean “Got Nothing Hey”

  17. For me, GNH is just a philosophy to be sold to gullible westerners. And to many in Bhutan, it could literally mean, “Got Nothing Hey”.

  18. I am sorry but from what I have heard and seen so far …

    GNH is a Prostitute.
    Everybody wants to use it for their own pleasure and then dump it somewhere.

    and sadly, its an expensive prostitute that a common man cannot afford.

  19. Oh! Sonam, That’s an interesting perspective. It made me laugh and think seriously at the same time.

  20. Dollars, Euros and Pounds can get you so much as they are worth. GNH will never exhaust and what it can buy cannot be fathomed. Walk the GNH path.

  21. GNH originated from a pristine himalayan kingdom. It bears the purity of the land and its culture, unpolluted by human lust for the tallest skycrapers, deadliest missiles, biggest bombs; and aspirations for political and economic dominance. It is humanity’s responsible to preserve GNH in its pristine form.

  22. My quote:

    ‘Happiness for All, Today and Tomorrow, Evergreen’

    For a citizen’s thoughts centred around GNH, if interested, my blog welcomes you, la.

  23. DPT goverment is bringing new concept of the GNH-(Medatation, Mindfulness, and so on) these tools of GNH will never help the poor people in Bhutan. The orginal concept of the 4th king was –make people happy rather than country‘s products. The present goverment does not want to make poor people happy in the country. That,s why they wanted to change the orginal concept. All the best OL.

  24. Lhab Dorji says

    it is ‘one and only’ the most catchy and abstract property we can easily sell to those outer world for winsome prices. for others who knows what bhutan did/doing/and will do have no time bulshitting around. How can it just say you be happy because we have this philosophy so called GNH. the propounder of GNH is merely insisting all the bhutanese to be happy just because they can very well go abroad and get more money for themselves. First they have to be ‘tought’ the meaning of ‘gross’.am little confused which sole section of bhutanese population makes ‘THE GROSS’ may be it is a big wow for people like Lyonpo Jigme Y Thinley because they have everything. As a leader he can only look up, see what is held up high. don’t know how to think about the grassroots which makes majority of bhutanese population. and are they really happy? Lyonpo might have his own reason to tell outer world that every bhutanse are happy but the truth is atleast 30% of the bhutanese citizens are not at all and many …..
    what has GNH done to us? is it really impacting bhutanese? if i have to be good like i have to care for my parents, sense of belongingness to my family, sense of cleanliness, standing up for my country, sense of responsibility and being oneness/united these things are already there in every human being atleast in every Bhutanese. so why GNH? it is only wasting time. i had long time learned these basic quality of human being and shamelessly people say come i’ll teach how to love!!!!
    My last question is, is GNH doing something to make life of bhutanese citizen comfortable or just asking bhutanese to be happy because bhutan has GNH philosophy?

  25. BhutanGuy says

    GNH is when all people in Bhutan has three square meal on the table, a shelter to sleep under and warm clothes to wear to shield from the cold.

    GNH is when you can put your head on the pillow at night and sleep soundly knowing that you have fulfilled a days task with a clear conscious and without shame or guilt.

    GNH is loving Bhutan for what it is and not what it is to become.

    GNH is ultimately what we do with our lives as BHUTANESE.

  26. NoRightAnswers says

    GNH is when many in the general public have miserable lives but the authorities and others in power force them to believe that they are happy.

    GNH is indoctrinating school children to be mindless slaves serving others in higher positions and never think for themselves.

    GNH is like another name for what happens in Communist China and North Korea, and what happened in the past in Stalinist Russia and Hitler’s Germany.

    GNH is for villagers and commoners, while GNH++ is for the wealthy and powerful.

    GNH is anti-democracy.

    But this is all okay, because in Bhutan, GNH is just in name only, except I guess it is also a big waste of money.

  27. Its a painful truth to agree with NoRightAnswers but they ring the bell of truth…

    How sad!

  28. GNH is the latest school syllabus in bhutan.

  29. Tree hugger says

    GNH to me is a shared vision to realize societal happiness which cannot be equated and confused with daily whimsical happiness of individuals. The four pillars are necessary conditions at the societal level to engender societal happiness.

    I might have been sad yesterday because my car broke down in the middle of a highway and be happy today because I have had a good breakfast. But, whether my car broke down or I had a good break fast, I will still be sad if there is an incessant political turmoil, torrential flood every year, and rampant corruption everywhere in the country.

  30. Dinesh Pradhan says

    His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s view on GNH, as he put it, when he delivered the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture delivered on 23rd December 2009:

    “(GNH is) Development with Values.”

  31. I like what Dinesh Pradhan has quoted of His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck: “Development with values” – simple, inclusive

  32. GNH is Giverment Not Happy mena? It is also a speech ornament for our politicians without which their speech is worthless.

  33. What is GNH? and for whom it prevails in Bhutan? is it for rich and high. is it for low and poor………… Frankly……..we poor and low did not know concept of GNH and what is the ultimate goal.
    GNH has really come into scene and action where our big politicians who earn big sum. For our Lyonpo Rinpoches and Dashos who live in heavenly residence and own 5-more than 20 buildings.
    For them have come the saturation point where no need of fabulous wealth. That is why they consider GDP is less important than GNH.
    Then, GNH is for our bossy Bureaucrats and authoritarians, who in capital with bounty of luxury, driving prado, living in government shares, lunch at meeting and dinner at hotle riverview. Mobile voucher puls free vehicle..yes they are entitled to enjoy,,,,,,,,,,,,,so is their GNH. No matter, even if they have all furtunes to wash hands with foreign wines at receptions…..but poor farmers at nook of country are crying for clean water to drink, daliy food to sustain and proper house to live in……………Now over and above, GNH “phagsha” for living the top and for low is GNUH (Gross National Unhappiness………with the every governmental plans and policies………..
    Poor Farmer,

  34. To me, GNH is very simple…. In bhutan, we have clean air to breath. We can leave our things outside and no body will touch. We have filial pity for our parents. We have hardly any beggar. The crime rate is very less compared to any other country. Our unemployment rate is very minimal as compared to develop country. That proves GNH is not only visible but felt

  35. GNH in our country can be achieved only if all BHUNTANESE posses positive attitude……

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