Lets start by telling you an interesting fact – did you know that Bhutan is the only country in the world that does not measure prosperity and development by calculating GDP. Yes! That’s true. Bhutan measures prosperity by GNH – Gross National Happiness. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all the facets of life that is essential for our happiness. This driving factor coupled with many other reasons (listed below) makes Bhutan one of the happiest countries in the world. Read on to find out why this tiny country nestled in the mighty Himalayas is referred as ‘Bhutan – Kingdom of Happiness’!
For some of you who may not be aware, Bhutan is a landlocked country located south of China and north of Sikkim (India). Size-wise Bhutan is really tiny and also the 2nd least populous countries in the world. The country is known for being really small and for being really happy. Let me tell you some of the things Bhutan people do differently which make them the happiest.
As I was mentioning above, Bhutan is the only country in the world that has something called ‘GNH’. It measures people’s quality of life, and makes sure that “material and spiritual development happen together.” Bhutan has done an amazing job of finding this balance. In 2007, Bhutan had the second fastest growing GDP in the world, at the same time as maintaining their environment and cultural identity. The strong relationship with our country (India) has also helped Bhutan in many ways. For instance, by allowing India to invest heavily in hydro-power in their country, Bhutan is quickly becoming rich and they don’t have to do that much work. It’s a win-win situation for both the countries!
Bhutan is nicely nestled in the Himalayan Mountains and well over 60% of the country is untouched wilderness. This attracts many foreigners for vacation and hence Bhutan travel packages are becoming popular day-by-day. I can assure you that once you visit Bhutan, you will feel that living there is probably more preferable, peaceful, and visually enjoyable than stomping around the concrete jungle that is the city every day. The environment is an important thing to the Bhutanese people. So much so, that half of their country is a national park. The forest, animals, and environment are strictly protected. This makes sure that the country would be safe from things like deforestation permanently. Caring that much for the planet makes people feel happy.
One of the awesome advantages of being so environmentally conscious is that the Bhutanese people live in less pollution than pretty much all of us. They do have some things around that cause pollution such as automobiles and factories. However, they lack the miles upon miles of industrial estates and waste-producing businesses. Interestingly, Bhutanese people keep planting tones of trees to celebrate some big occasions (elaborated in the next point). This helps in reducing pollution and makes the air, water, and ground much cleaner.
In all my travels, I have never come across a place where almost all the citizens share an unconditional love for their rulers. Yes! This is something you can understand only when you go to Bhutan. To me it felt like the love of their King and Queen is actually imbibed in the culture of Bhutan. You will find photos of the Royal family in all the shops and restaurants. Many of the people even put badges having photos of the Royal couple on their t-shirts. This love is also the reason why 108,000 saplings were planted in the tiny mountain Kingdom of Bhutan! This was done to commemorate the first Royal Child of the currently ruling royal couple!
Bhutan, “last Shangri-La” is the only remaining Buddhist Kingdom in the World. Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion of Bhutan and over two thirds of the people are follow it religiously. And as you might be aware, Buddhism is known to be one of the most peaceful religions on Earth. Bhutanese people deeply believe that those who lead good lives are closer to enlightenment and are reincarnated as superior creatures in their rebirth. This guides them to live good lives, do good deeds to fellow humans, and live the best way possible. Having visited Bhutan twice, I have witnessed it firsthand. The locals will go out of their way to make you comfortable, to see the smile on your face. Whenever I recollect my travels, I feel like planning a trip to Bhutan again!
In today’s world, I believe that internet (and TV) is one the biggest driving factors of jealousy and the feeling discontented. And as well all know – jealousy heavily contributes towards unhappiness. For example, when you see your friends enjoying exotic vacations while scrolling through your instagram, it most likely will make you feel unhappy about yourself. But Bhutan does not have a craze towards internet and TV like the rest of the world. Life in Bhutan is very simple and they have found the perfect balance. In last few years, internet, cable television, cell phones, as well as many other modern technologies and ideas have become a part of Bhutan, but their desire to preserve of cultural values, as well as the desire to protect the environment has remained high.
I am sure that this post will definitely entice you to plan a trip to Bhutan very soon. The people are very friendly and the culture of Bhutan is nothing like you have seen anywhere. Since Bhutan is relatively new to the world, opening up to globalization only a few years back, it best that you explore this country at the earliest.