Advertisment

A Journey into Measuring Happiness: Insights from Bhutan's 'Agent of Happiness' Documentary

author-image
Medriva Correspondents
New Update
NULL

A Journey into Measuring Happiness: Insights from Bhutan's 'Agent of Happiness' Documentary

Advertisment

In a world where economic success is often the primary measure of a nation's progress, the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has taken a different approach. The new documentary 'Agent of Happiness' provides a unique insight into this unusual perspective, following Bhutanese bureaucrats who aim to quantify the happiness of their population. This process involves a comprehensive survey of 148 different questions, covering physical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental factors — an ambitious endeavor to capture the multifaceted nature of human happiness.

Advertisment

Understanding Bhutan's Pursuit of Happiness

Bhutan's focus on happiness as a national goal began in the 1970s under the reign of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He proclaimed Gross National Happiness to be more important than Gross Domestic Product, marking a significant deviation from the economic-centric perspectives of most nations. Since 2008, Bhutan has been measuring its citizens' happiness, reflecting this ethos in its national policies. The documentary 'Agent of Happiness' delves into this unique approach and its historical roots, offering viewers a rare glimpse into the Bhutanese way of life.

Measuring Happiness: A Holistic Approach

Advertisment

Unlike traditional measures of well-being, Bhutan's approach treats nine domains equally in its happiness measurement. These include health, education, good governance, ecological diversity, and resilience, among others. This approach reflects a collectivist society with a diverse understanding of happiness and well-being. The documentary provides a view into both happy and unhappy lives in Bhutan, revealing the profound impact of these measured categories on the overall happiness of its citizens.

The Debate around Measuring Happiness

While Bhutan's approach has received widespread praise for its holistic view of human welfare, 'Agent of Happiness' also highlights the challenges and debates around this methodology. Some researchers argue that this method makes assumptions about happiness, potentially compromising its reliability. Defining happiness as 'subjective well-being', happiness researchers use measures like the Satisfaction with Life Scale and Gallup's ladder to assess life satisfaction. These methods, while simpler, offer a different perspective on happiness measurement and its value.

Advertisment

The Impact of Measuring Happiness

The act of measuring happiness itself can make a significant difference, as shown by the World Happiness Report. Using Gallup's single metric, this report provides insights into what promotes or impedes happiness on a nationwide level. In Bhutan's context, these measurements give the government a comprehensive understanding of their citizens' well-being, making people feel cared for and valued. The documentary 'Agent of Happiness' offers a compelling exploration of these impacts, revealing the profound effect of Bhutan's unique approach on its citizens and the world.

Conclusion

The 'Agent of Happiness' does more than document Bhutan's journey in measuring happiness. It sparks a global conversation about the nature of happiness and how societies can prioritize and measure it. While it presents a compelling case for Bhutan's Gross National Happiness, it equally invites viewers to question and reflect on their understanding of happiness and well-being. As the world continues to grapple with modernization and globalization, Bhutan's example offers a refreshing perspective on what progress could mean for nations worldwide.

Advertisment
Chat with Dr. Medriva !