Practical principles for creating conditions for happiness at scale from the program director of the Gross National Happiness Center of Bhutan, the only country in the world to measure progress by the happiness of its citizens.
Despite countless happiness programs focused on individual well-being, are we any happier, really? Is it in fact possible to be fully happy within a miserably dysfunctional society built to keep structures of inequity in place? Possible, perhaps, but not easy. While the pursuit of happiness is a much-celebrated ideal, howcan countries and communities design the right environments for people to lead happy lives?
Personal programs for happiness that include mindfulness, empathy, and gratitude are a good start, but without structural changes, they can only go so far. Taking the case of the country of Bhutan as an example, the nation's first Gross National Happiness program director Tho Ha Vinh explains how the principles of happiness can and must apply to people, families, and communities at scale to produce the conditions for a truly satisfying life.
More and more people feel that we live in a time of transition and that our very survival on this planet depends on renewing the way we live together in society. Gross National Happiness is an innovative development paradigm that puts the interconnected happiness of all people and the well-being of all life forms at the center of progress. Based on real-life experiences, this book shows a multitude of practical methods for strategic thinkers and change makers to apply the framework of Gross National Happiness to bring about positive change in schools, businesses, and communities.
About the Author
Tho Ha Vinh, PhD, was born in 1951, the son of a Vietnamese father and a French mother. He was the program director of the Gross National Happiness Center (GNH) of the country of Bhutan from 2012 to 2018. Serving as the Head of Training, Learning, and Development at the International Committee of the Red Cross, he trained humanitarian professionals working in war zones and emergency response in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, and Darfur. He holds a PhD in psychology and education from Geneva University, Switzerland.
Thakur S. Powdyel served as Bhutan's first democratically elected government's Minister of Education from 2008 through 2013 and is the recipient of the Global Education Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education.
"I greatly admired and closely followed the initiatives developed by Tho Ha Vinh based on the teachings of mindfulness that we all learned from 'Thay,' Thich Nhat Hanh.… This book is a guide to practicing generosity in one's thoughts, words, and deeds and to understanding that the happiness and suffering of others is closely linked to one's own happiness and suffering. It is based on the conviction that transformation begins within each and every one, but must also contribute to creating a fairer society and a better world."—Sister Chan Khong, cofounder of Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism and author of Learning True Love
"No one could fail to recognize 'the real Dr. Tho.' Unique among happiness experts, he speaks from an incomparable wealth of experience. If you want to read just one book on the subject, this is it." —Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk and cofounder of www.gratefulness.org
"A close student of the great Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh who brought mindfulness to the West, there cannot be a better person to explore mindfulness as a source of wellness and happiness than Tho Ha Vinh.… In accessible language, he shows how individuals and organizations can become mindful and thus obtain higher accomplishments not only for themselves and their organization, but also for humanity as a whole. This book will enable everyone to transform themselves for a saner and happier world."—Saamdu Chetri, PhD, former executive director of the GNH Centre, Bhutan, and Head of Good Governance, PMO, Bhutan
“This remarkable book unfolds Bhutan’s brave and powerful vision and explores what true and compassionate national and personal development could mean for our world today and in the future.… A powerful call to humankind to wake up to its full potential before it is too late and to commit to an ethos of cooperation and care. This book is a must-read at this moment in our history.”—Roshi Joan Halifax, author of Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet
"Nourishing and uplifting, Dr. Tho Ha Vinh’s personal stories and experiences illuminate the philosophy and framework of Gross National Happiness as a foundation for well being at all levels of society. Dr. Tho correlates inner transformation and small acts of kindness with pragmatic societal development. With this book, you are not only learning a framework of mindful governance, you are perhaps including yourself in a new level of reverence for humanity and all of life.”—Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace