-  Diary of an Adventure   -  Happiness Index

At this time, as the world spins – seemingly, increasingly – out of control, being in the midst of a raging civil war in South Sudan is almost the norm.

One of the benefits of having a multi-cultural staff is that they bring different values to how life is viewed. One of these is Happiness Index in Bhutan, where Goss National Happiness is more important than GDP as a measure of the countries success.

Gross National Happiness, was brought to life by the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan, and a sophisticated system to measure all aspects of human life developed by the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Centered in the ideal that beneficial human development occurs when there is a balance between spiritual and material development. There are nine metrics and 35 quantitative and qualitative measures for the Index.

Far from being an isolated concept, on the 19 July 2011, the United Nations approved a Bhutan-sponsored resolution 65/309, titled “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development”, which was co-sponsored by 68 countries. It stated that ‘happiness is fundamental human goal and universal aspiration; that GDP by its nature does not reflect the goal; that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption impede sustainable development; and that a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty, and enhance wellbeing and profound happiness.” (Wikipedia)

Importantly, it’s not about your happiness, but what you do to lift the happiness of someone who has a low Happiness Index.

As such, it has become part of our morning ‘Health Check’ in the UNOPS South Sudan office.

In his time Jan has been an electronics, nuclear and power system engineer, a strategist, a humanitarian and an artist. A career path linked by creativity and innovative thinking. Initially trained at the Johannesburg College of Art, Jan has won numerous international awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He can be found in his studio ‘Jandreart’ located at Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna.


  • Mark Raats

    I woke up this morning angry and frustrated with a world where intolerance, greed, pig-headness and a glaring lack of compassion seem to be the order of the day.
    The passenger jet debacle, the Israel vs Palestinian murder-fest, the mayhem in South Sudan and in other part of Africa, ignorant commentators and even more idiotic politicians – what a wonderful place.

    Thank you for sharing this especially warm and uplifting writeup. Its ironic that such levelheadedness comes out of one of the worlds most intolerant hotspots. Lets hope that we all learn from it, take a step back and realise that we need to roll up our sleeves and work at the problems if we want the world to be a better place – not to simply pick up a gun.

    An incredibly thought provoking comment boet. Many thanks!

    July 19, 2014
    • Thanks Marcus. It is indeed a better way to start the day by seeing what you can do to increase the Happiness around you. A bit like the ‘Pay it Foreard’ concept, but integrated as a philosophy to life. It makes us difference in our days

      July 19, 2014

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