…And How to Explore the Nine Pillars of Gross National Happiness Firsthand


Journeys International client at a festival in Bhutan.Around the globe, each culture weaves its own narrative on the pursuit of happiness, crafting philosophies that resonate through time and tradition. Yet, nestled within the majestic folds of the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan offers a particularly enchanting vision of joy—one that transcends conventional measures of prosperity and delves into the soul of well-being: the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Unveiling the Essence of GNH:

Crafted in the 1970s by Bhutan’s visionary fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, GNH emerged as a bold reimagining of what it means to progress as a nation. It champions a comprehensive view of happiness, stretching beyond economic outputs to embrace mental health, environmental sustainability, and the richness of cultural heritage. Bridging the conceptual foundation of Gross National Happiness and its practical application, Bhutan’s innovative framework for national well-being revolves around the Nine Pillars of GNH. These pillars serve as guiding principles that collectively shape a society where happiness is woven into the very fabric of daily life. By prioritizing psychological well-being, environmental sustainability, and cultural richness alongside economic development, Bhutan presents a holistic approach to progress. This model challenges the global paradigm of measuring success solely through GDP, suggesting instead that true prosperity emerges from a balanced integration of material and spiritual well-being. As we delve into the Nine Pillars, we uncover how each element contributes to creating a resilient, joyful community, reflecting a comprehensive understanding of happiness that is both profound and transformative.

The Nine Pillars of GNH—A Path to Enrichment:

  1. Psychological Wellbeing: Bhutan treasures the tranquility of the mind as the cornerstone of happiness.
  2. Standard of Living: A harmonious blend of simplicity and comfort defines the Bhutanese way of life.
  3. Health: The vitality of the body is intricately linked to the joy of existence in Bhutan.
  4. Education: Beyond academia, Bhutanese education cultivates the soul, preparing individuals for a life of wisdom and ethical integrity.
  5. Cultural Diversity and Resilience: Bhutan’s vibrant tapestry of traditions fosters a deep sense of belonging and communal joy.
  6. Time Use: In Bhutan, the rhythm of life balances productivity with moments of reflection and familial warmth.
  7. Good Governance: The nation’s prosperity is built on the foundations of justice and transparency.
  8. Community Vitality: The strength of community ties lies at the heart of Bhutan’s happiness.
  9. Ecological Diversity and Resilience: A profound respect for nature underpins the Bhutanese ethos, recognizing our deep interconnection with the world around us.

These pillars not only sketch a blueprint for happiness but also invite us to reimagine our own approach to leading a fulfilling life.

Embark on a Journey of Discovery with Journeys International:Colorful dancer at a Bhutanese festival.

For those inspired to delve deeper into the essence of GNH, Journeys International presents a unique opportunity: the Festivals of Happiness in Bhutan Rare Journey. Led by the intrepid Sherry Ott, a seasoned explorer of life’s myriad joys, this 12-day adventure is an intimate exploration of Bhutan’s heart.

From the breathtaking Himalayan vistas to the exciting Tsechu festivals and the tranquil sanctity of the Taktsang Monastery, each step of this journey is infused with opportunities to connect, reflect, and explore the landscapes—both external and internal—that shape Bhutan’s unique philosophy.

Join Us on This Unforgettable Adventure:

People gather at a festival in Bhutan wearing bright colors.If the call of Bhutan’s serene mountains and the allure of discovering happiness anew speaks to your soul, we invite you to join us on this rare adventure. Or, explore some of our sample itineraries to build your own Custom Trip. Connect with Journeys International today, and let our Adventure Specialists guide you towards an experience that promises not just memories, but a new vision of joy. Email or give us a call at 800-255-8735.

In a world brimming with diverse interpretations of happiness, Bhutan’s GNH offers a profound, enriching perspective on the art of living well. It’s an invitation to journey not just through the breathtaking sceneries of Bhutan but through the landscapes of our own pursuit of happiness.