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Gross National Happiness

“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” Dalai Lama

Bhutan, a tiny kingdom in the Himalayas, is the only country with a Gross National Happiness index. The GNH is based on equitable development, environmental conservation, cultural heritage and good governance. The interest in happiness as a measure of national health is growing. Ruut Veenhoven, emeritus-professor of ‘social conditions for human happiness’ at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands has been compiling a world happiness data base. Veenhoven defines happiness by how much a person likes their life. Certain conditions conspire to support a happy life and it shouldn’t be of any surprise to note that rich nations tend to score higher than poor. But there is another critical factor at play- freedom.

These lofty insights into happiness have practical applications in the business world. Fundamentally, it would seem happiness is good for business. Current findings from the field of positive psychology and neuroscience are confirming that it is possible to raise happiness on a personal level and that our own happiness is highly contagious. Furthermore, happiness is good for our health. And healthy people make better, more productive employees. It seems, therefore, that any organization that truly takes an interest in happiness, in the wellbeing of employees (and customers), must encourage choice and freedom, and educate and inspire one another to demonstrate and continually cultivate a “warm-hearted feeling for others”.