The thing called happiness
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
IN 1972, the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” It is the very first time that the concept was articulated, changing the perspectives and measurements of Bhutan’s overall development. As an alternative indicator for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Gross National Happiness (GNH) was developed as a tool to measure progress or development. The Centre for Bhutan Studies measures GNH along nine domains based on their link to well-being and happiness: Psychological wellbeing, Health, Time use, Education, Cultural diversity and resilience, Good governance, Community vitality, Ecological diversity and resilience, and Living standards.
Following Bhutan’s paradigm, the Happiness Alliance, between 2011 and 2016, developed a survey instrument called the Happiness Index. “The Happiness Index is a tool for the use of researchers, community organizers and policy makers seeking to understand and enhance individual happiness, community well-being, social justice, economic equality, and environmental sustainability.” The index intended to promote social change by making the survey instrument and data freely available, online, and designed it to allow its users to customize based on their own purposes.
So what is this thing called happiness? Most people define happiness in terms of well-being, a feeling of joy and contentment, attainment of a desired level of achievement, a safe environment. Others define happiness as “a feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. “
Sometimes happiness comes from unexpected, unimagined places that has nothing to do with contentment, achievement and the state of being safe. Sometimes it comes in the excitement of living on the edge, on teetering between the safe and the dangerous. Sometimes it is imagined, a creation of the mind. After all, according to Buddha, “Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.”
Happiness is not something you can put into neat words. There are no words. True happiness defies definition.
that quiet, calm smile
on your dreamy eyes
on your full lips
in your radiant skin
in your nimble fingers
in silence, they sing
where they had been
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