The background of Gross National Happiness
The development philosophy “Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP)” was propounded by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan in the early 1970s. He realized that the existing development paradigm - GDP - did not consider the ultimate goal of every human being – HAPPINESS.
For example, the King thought if the forest in Bhutan was logged for profit, the GDP would increase; if Bhutanese citizens picked up modern living habits investments in health care systems would be made and the GDP would increase; and if environmental considerations were not taken into account, landslides, road damages and flooding could occur and more investments would be required and the GDP would grow. Yet these actions would negatively affect the lives of the Bhutanese people.
At the same time, GDP is not affected by volunteer work and the vital unpaid work done in households. The precious free time that we need to relax mentally and socialize is completely valueless when only considering GDP. He further realized that GDP was neither an equitable nor a meaningful measurement for human happiness, thus the birth of the philosophy Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Video: Bhutans Hon Prime Minister talks about GDP vs GNH