Branding Bhutan as a spiritual nation in the world

“The first country to adopt happiness as an official goal of public policy is the tiny little country of Bhutan in Asia near China and India.” ―Derek Bok

Bhutan, also known as the last Shangri-La on earth is one of the happiest nations in the world. It is ranked as the happiest nation in Asia. It sounds strange to hear that Bhutan achieved happiness despite being a small nation with a population of 785,921 as of February 25, 2022. In this regard, we will explore how Bhutan achieved happiness, how it is different from other nations in the world, and the lessons other nations can learn from this hidden mountain Himalayan Kingdom.

Bhutan believes in Gross National Happiness (GNH), not Gross National Product (GNP). Unlike other nations globally, it has a Gross Happiness Index to measure its happiness, progress, and peace. It is one of the youngest democracies in the world with the least corruption.

It is known for its rich biological diversity and is recognized as being one of the ecological wonders in South East Asia. It is a small developing nation surviving on natural resources. It is a landlocked country where 72% of its land is covered by forest and education is free. It is the only nation in the world that is carbon negative and a role model for sustainable development.

Bhutan based its strategy on four pillars of good governance, the conversation of the environment, preservation and promotion of culture, and sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. It adopts a four-fold approach as follows: balance between materialism and spiritualism; focus on specific resource potentials for development; distribution of responsibilities; and integrated management. It underpins the importance of three key sectors―energy, industry, and agriculture.

People in the developed nations measure prosperity in terms of materialistic possessions whereas the people in Bhutan measure their prosperity in terms of spiritual happiness. Most people work hard to create wealth to bring happiness whereas Bhutanese work smart to create happiness to bring peace and prosperity. They care less about technology and more about prosperity. They are community conscious rather than individual conscious.

They are not in a hurry to do the things that make them stand out from others. Things are simple and clear when people lead comfortable and happy lives within their means. They are happy with what they have. They achieved happiness and prosperity by managing their resources judiciously. It is a testimony that other nations can achieve it.

Bhutanese are the highest environmentalists on the earth because they preserve the forest. Good governance, strong family values, community leadership, sharing and caring for their families, various generations live under one roof in Bhutan.

They give more significance to people, not profit. They are people-oriented rather than task-oriented. They derive satisfaction by serving others. They keep their community interests paramount. They are not into the rat race. They enjoy their lives. They are strongly connected with their roots. There is less greed due to fewer needs. People are happy at heart. Wherever there is more exploitation there will be less peace. Since there is less exploitation in Bhutan, people live with peace, amity, and goodwill.

Bhutan can be branded as a spiritual nation in the world because of its geography and global credentials as a happy country the way some nations have branded globally because of their products or services. For instance, Switzerland is known for its precision watchmaking, Russia for its vodka, Scotland for its cashmere, salmon, and whiskey, Germany for its well-engineered automobiles, New Zealand for its lamb, France for its wine, Belgium for its chocolates, lace, and beer, The Netherlands for its tulips and Japan for its consumer electronics and automobiles (Honda, Toyota).

Bhutan can be converted into a spiritual destination in the world by branding and marketing aggressively. It is possible to do so since Bhutan is a spiritual nation and a home for peace and happiness. It must emphasize spiritualism to stand out from other nations. It can excel as a role model for other nations if it achieves progress through peace and happiness.

Previously organizations emphasized the slogan of ‘customers first, employees second, and shareholders third’. However, presently organizations emphasize the philosophy of ‘employees first, customers second, and shareholders third’. In a similar spirit, a nation’s well being must be measured by people’s happiness rather than by the so-called economic development. Only when the people are happy, will they be able to contribute their best and achieve economic progress.

It is not the size but strength that matters. Hence, let us not look at the size of Bhutan but its strength to establish it as one of the happiest nations in the world. At times, small size contains smaller challenges. Probably because of its limited challenges, Bhutan could achieve its success as a happy nation in the world. Hence, other nations must emulate ways and means to bring happiness and prosperity to their people.