Bhutan isn’t paradise and everyday life is hard for many, with physically demanding work in harsh environments. Men and women still have markedly different roles in Bhutanese society and in the highlands, nomads still practice polygamy with multiple wives to help cart children about and tend cattle. Which isn’t my idea of fun.
The advent of modernity hasn’t been without its challenges, either. Technology has been a disruption. With Television arriving in the 1990s (See wrestle mania) and a few of Bhutan’s sixty or so different dialects from fragmented communities starting to die out in favour of english or Dzongkha ( The National Language). But technologies like We chat ( the Chinese messaging and social media app) have also helped revive some dialects, with groups set up online to share learnings. And those without reading or writing skills in some communities are now able to talk to each other via video chats. Bhutan’s education minister and Prime Minister have encouraged STEM subjects in schools (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and children are learning to build their own computers and drones. They have even got our own MIT Lab,
The GNH (Gross National Happiness) aims to honour the best bids of traditional Bhutanese culture, too. If you get sick, you can opt to be treated in the traditional Bhutanese medicine system or the conventional medicine system – even in hospitals, Where as western medicine treats only the sickness, the traditional Bhutanese medicine system treats the human as whole. So it is good to have both, It isn’t always easy to combine old and new. They are a country on the crossroads, where ancient minds and modern minds are meeting, they need to reflect on where they have come from and where they are going. And they have to have compassion for their fellow human beings. “Compassion” is integral part of GNH.
GNH actively promotes compassion – thats all part of it, They say – and because none of them know whats is happening in someone’s life, they all need to alleviate our compassion.
How to live according to GNH
- Alleviate your compassion : Next time you feel frustrated with a colleague or ready to throw a sock at a loved one who has failed to put his underwear in the laundry basket, just for example….. ( IN the basket: not around it. IN it!) Consider that they have got their own things going on and probably don’t mean to wind you up.
- Park you EGO. What would happen if you assumed nothing and let in life lessons from every one and everything you encounter? Has your dog/bus conductor/ frustrating colleague being trying to tell you something, all this time…..
- Live sustainably wherever possible. Look after the natural world and look after yourself, today – so that both have a fighting chance of a tomorrow.
- Prioritise Happiness over money. Researchers from – San Francisco state university have proven that we get far more Joy from experiences than from accumulating and buying more “stuff” that we don’t need anyway.
- Remember: there is no way to happiness, Happiness is the way. The journey is it, so travel well.