It’s not every day you get to visit a country built on happiness. Where it is the focal point for existence, something that glows from its people. Where it is deemed so important there is a Minister responsible for it and the government measures it as a national performance indicator.
After having spent a week travelling and working remotely in the magical Kingdom of Bhutan, I can see why they own the tagline “Happiness is a place”. It is present everywhere you go.
The happiness vibe is living and breathing and you can’t help but feel overtaken by it as you explore the breathtaking natural scenery, visit the peaceful monasteries or speak with the people of this tiny Himalayan nation.
From what I experienced, this happiness is the result of a respect for harmony: an appreciation of our shared existence with each other and the environment. Where every individual has their own role to play and operates as one part of a larger team. While Bhutan still faces the modern day challenges of other countries, this peaceful way of life has been preserved, and in this there are many lessons for the rest of us on how to achieve our own state of happiness.
Achieving happiness, not finding it
As many would attest, the key to finding happiness is not about expending vast amounts of energy searching for it. They certainly don’t seem to do that in Bhutan. When it comes to happiness, it’s actually more about achieving rather than finding. How we do that, however, will be different for each one of us.
What I can say is that achieving happiness is a sum of many parts. It starts by letting go, by stopping yourself from focusing on trying to catch and bottle it. It’s also about being more aware of how we fit into the lives of those around us: our family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances, in every kind of scenario.
As a visitor to Bhutan you are treated as an extended part of their family and in many ways, their team. Our amazing guides and the people who looked after us wherever we went genuinely cared about us and our wellbeing. It was very different from anything I had experienced. For them, happiness wasn’t just about the individual but the collective. We hugged as we said our goodbyes and the connection we felt was special, like we all belonged to something together.
Happiness is a place for all of us
Happiness is a place we create for those around us and we all have a responsibility to nurture happiness the wider groups and teams we belong to.
Each of us has a role to play in contributing to the happiness of our kids, our parents, our partners and friends. Whether it’s acting as an advisor on important life decisions, sharing a laugh over a meal or simply giving them a hug.
In our teams at work we have the opportunity to acknowledge that we are the sum of many parts; that together we can achieve more when we remove the self and prioritise the collective. We all have our strengths and our own areas of expertise but these mean nothing unless we join them together to make them something far more powerful.
As soon as we understand that it’s about more than just ourselves, the sooner we can understand that happiness is a place for all of us.
Image credit: Matt Hardy