Earlier this week we wrote a preview about the Phinney Ridge visit of the “happiness secretary” from the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan. On Monday night at St. John United Lutheran Church at 55th and Phinney Avenue, Karma Tshiteem spoke about how Bhutan created the Gross National Happiness Commission in 1972, making happiness the country’s primary goal.
(Photo by Michael C. Bradbury, REALscience.)
Science journalist Michael C. Bradbury at REALscience is one of the people working on creating the Seattle Happiness Index, and he shared his article from Monday’s discussion with us. Here’s an excerpt:
Tshiteem used to work in the financial ministry before joining the happiness commission, which is the most powerful agency in the Bhutanese government.
Speaking of Bhutan’s transition from the four pillars happiness—social and equitable development, good governance, personal values and cultural and environmental respect—to the nine domains of life, Tshiteem told a group gathered at a community meeting on Phinney Ridge, “If you don’t break it down into something manageable you won’t be able to manage it.”
To flesh out those pillars a few years ago the Bhutanese government developed the nine domains and then broke those down into 72 indicators. To make sure they were on the same page as the people of Bhutan they did an extensive day-long survey with a scientific sample of the country to create a baseline for measuring happiness. They are about to conduct a second survey—this one much shorter after refining it a lot.
The nine domains are: Psychological Well-being, Health, Time Balance, Education, Community Vitality, Cultural Diversity, Environment, Governance and Standard of Living.
Like all other nations who measure wealth by GDP, Bhutan measures health, education, environment and standard of living. But it also considers personal well-being including some level of spirituality. Under the psychological well-being domain the GNH even examines consideration of Karma—the law of cause and effect—in this mostly Buddhist nation.
You can read the full article here.