Take the Happiness Challenge
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small Buddhist country located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, they measure their Country’s success by Gross National Happiness. It’s not Gross National Product or wealth of it’s Nation, but happiness.
The Bhutanese grounding in Buddhist ideals suggests that beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.
Beyond these four main pillars of happiness, researchers at the Center for Bhutan Studies took it a step further and with greater specificity defining the eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality.
My challenge to you is this:
1) Reflect upon where you are in your own measurement of GNH.
- Do you have balance in these four main pillars of Happiness?
- Do you have a spiritual practice?
- Do you live your life in a sustainable way?
- Have you developed strong cultural values and do you adhere to them?
- Do you help to preserve the natural environment?
- Do you even get out into nature and notice her beauty?
- And do you have good personal governance and by this I mean, do you meet your commitments? Do you take responsibility for what is yours? Do you do your share in building good community? Are you self-governed in a balanced way?
And, if you’d like to take it a step further, look at your life based on the eight general contributors, not just the four main pillars.
2) After reflecting on your own personal GNH, notice what you already have handled and where you need improvement. For example, maybe you’re really good at being self governed but you could do more to preserve the natural environment…even if it’s a commitment to spend more time in nature or by cultivating a butterfly garden.
3) Make a plan to improve on the areas that are weak. Take on the challenge of picking at least one area where you could do better and dedicate some good time and energy toward improving it. Maybe your spiritual practice needs strengthening? Maybe you could do better at recycling and not buying things with so much packaging, reducing your overall waste.
4) Take the happiness you do have and give it others. While out in the world, make a point of trying to ease the stresses of everyday life and see just how much happiness you can spread. If someone is having a bad day, ask how you can ease their burden; offer to carry someones bags; open their door; offer a kind word; smile! Smiling goes such a long way and it’s so easy to do!
Warning: you are in danger of having increased happiness by taking on this challenge.
Share your Joy!
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. —Dali Lama XIV