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What is happiness?

I have recently returned from a trip to Bhutan. It had been on my ‘bucket list’ for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. What an amazing place! Arriving in Bhutan is like stepping back in time! It is a small kingdom in the Himalayas between China (formerly Tibet) and India.

Bhutan is most famous for introducing the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) to the world, measuring the success of the country by the happiness of the people rather than GDP. Government policy is assessed on 4 pillars that will boost or maintain happiness for all Bhutanese people.

Bhutan's Four Pillars of Gross National Happiness are:

  • Equitable Socio-Economic Development;

  • Good governance;

  • Preservation of Culture; and

  • Preservation and Enhancement of Environment.

So are the Bhutanese people genuinely happy? To an outsider they appear to be happy. Or are they content? Is this the result of the government policy or something else such as their strong Buddhist beliefs?

I love travel. It broadens your mind and often changes your perspective. This trip has given me lots to question and consider. Some questions I am still thinking about….

What is happiness anyway? And how can we measure it? Are happiness and contentment the same? Can someone else make us happy (as in Bhutanese government policy) or does happiness come from within? Is being happy a decision we make? Can we make ourselves happy?

During my reading I came across this journaling activity to help identify what makes you happy, and then plan how to incorporate that into your life.

Try it and see what you think. It comes from a book called “Wishcraft: How to get what you really want” written by author and career/life coach Barbara Sher.

This is a writing exercise that will take about 30 minutes to complete. You will need a quiet place, pen and paper or a computer. The title is ‘My Ideal Day’.

Write in as much detail as you can about your ideal day from the time you get up until you go to bed. Include all the small details such as what you wear, eat and everything else you do., who else is involved, where you are. Write it in the present tense as if it is really happening, for example, I walk to my local café and order a coffee which I enjoy while reading my book. This is not a special day, celebration or holiday it is just an ordinary, normal day. But it is fantasy, so don’t limit yourself just to things you think are possible, there is no limit on money, time, other resources or your talents and abilities.

When you have finished, read back through it and highlight the things are absolutely essential to your happiness. Then work out what is desirable but optional and what is just the icing on the cake.

Now figure out what’s the one thing from your ideal-day exercise that really seems indispensable to your happiness and well-being.

It can be anything, big or small.

What else is important to your happiness? Can you do some brainstorming and plan some steps to eventually get these things into your life?

This type of journaling is great for organising your thoughts and working out what is important to you.

What is the one thing from this exercise that seems to be really crucial to your happiness and wellbeing?

What can you do to make this happen? Comment below, I would love to know your perspective on happiness.

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Happiness in Bhutan

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