Gross National Happiness Essay

11174 Words45 Pages
Gross National Happiness: Towards a New Paradigm in Economics SANDER G. TIDEMAN Introduction The notion of Gross National Happiness (GNH) – as first conceived by the King of Bhutan - presents a radical paradigm shift in development economics and social theory. GNH can be regarded as the Buddhist equivalent to Gross National Product (GNP), which is the conventional indicator for a nation’s economic performance. But GNH can also be regarded as the next evolution in indicators for sustainable development, going beyond measuring merely material values such as production and consumption, but instead incorporating all values relevant to life on this planet, including the most subtle and profound: happiness. The definition of happiness needs further clarification. In the Buddhist view, which generally corresponds to those of other spiritual traditions, happiness is not simply sensory pleasure, derived from physical comfort. Rather, happiness is an innate state of mind which can be cultivated through spiritual practice, overcoming mental and emotional states which induce suffering. In the Buddhist tradition this is a path of ‘liberation’; other spiritual traditions call it self-transformation. This definition of happiness is absent from conventional western sciences, on which modern economic theory is based. In fact, conventional economics and its indicators such as GNP, deliberately leave human happiness outside its spectrum, tacitly assuming that material development, as measured by GNP growth, is positively correlated to human well-being. Further analysis of the relationship between material development and human psychology has been outside the scope of economic and social theory. Yet this is changing: breakthrough research – in quantum physics, medicine, biology, behavioral science, psychology and cognitive science – is now making the science of the mind relevant to

More about Gross National Happiness Essay

Open Document