The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept proposes that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards indications of progress and give equal importance to the non-economic aspects of wellbeing. The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing. It is a holistic reflection of the general wellbeing rather than a subjective psychological ranking of ‘happiness’ alone.
Climate change, species extinction, multiple crises, growing insecurity, instability and conflicts are not only diminishing our well-being but are also threatening our very survival. The GNH directly addresses such global, national and individual challenges by pointing to the non-material roots of well-being and offering ways to balance and satisfy the dual needs of the human being within the limits of what nature can provide on a sustainable basis.