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Is happiness overrated? A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness

May 19, 2011 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Gross National Happiness

MAY 16, 2011 By JOHN TIERNEY

Martin Seligman now thinks so, which may seem like an odd position for the founder of the positive psychology movement. As president of the American Pyschological Association in the late 1990s, he criticized his colleagues for focusing relentlessly on mental illness and other problems. He prodded them to study life’s joys, and wrote a best seller in 2002 titled “Authentic Happiness.”

But now he regrets that title. As the investigation of happiness proceeded, Dr. Seligman began seeing certain limitations of the concept. Why did couples go on having children even though the data clearly showed that parents are less happy than childless couples? Why did billionaires desperately seek more money even when there was nothing they wanted to do with it?

And why did some people keep joylessly playing bridge? Dr. Seligman, an avid player himself, kept noticing them at tournaments. They never smiled, not even when they won. They didn’t play to make money or make friends. (more…)

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Wanderlust travel: Penis worship in Bhutan

March 20, 2011 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Buddhism, Gross National Happiness, Tourism & Bhutan

What’s behind all those phallus pictures in this remote Himalayan land?
January 4, 2011 By Iva Skoch

Editor’s note: Wanderlust is a regular GlobalPost series on global sex and relationship issues written by Iva Skoch, who is now traveling the world writing a book on the subject.

THIMPHU, Bhutan — Most of the penises painted on houses or suspended from rooftops in Bhutan are larger than humans.

They come in various sizes, color schemes and embellishments. Some have ribbons tied around them like jovial holiday presents. Others are coiled by daunting dragons. A few even have eyes. They typically feature hairy testicles, from the neatly trimmed to full-on Yeti-style. And, of course, all are fully erect.

“Oh, golly,” said an elderly woman visiting from Seattle, when she stepped off the bus in the Punakha valley and found herself surrounded by an alarming concentration of penis imagery, set against a magnificent Himalayan backdrop.

She was one of just 30,000 “outsiders” in 2010 who visited this isolated country wedged between China and India. While Bhutan tops many travel wish lists — thanks to its almost utopic reputation as “the last Shangri La” and a place where the government measures success in “Gross National Happiness” instead of gross domestic product — only a fraction can afford such a trip. (more…)

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How Happy Are You? A Census Wants to Know

March 10, 2011 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Gross National Happiness

How Happy Are You? A Census Wants to Know

April 30, 2011; By JOHN TIERNEY: SOMERVILLE, Mass. — When they filled out the city’s census forms this spring, the people of Somerville got a new question. On a scale of 1 to 10, they were asked, “How happy do you feel right now?”

Officials here want this Boston suburb to become the first city in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness. Like leaders in Britain, France and a few other places, they want to move beyond the traditional measures of success — economic growth — to promote policies that produce more than just material well-being.

Monitoring the citizenry’s happiness has been advocated by prominent psychologists and economists, but not without debate over how to do it and whether happiness is even the right thing for politicians to be promoting. The pursuit of happiness may be an inalienable right, but that is not the same as reporting blissful feelings on a questionnaire. (more…)

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US City takes cue from Bhutan

January 17, 2011 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Gross National Happiness, Sustainable Development

Seattle trying to achieve ‘Gross National Happiness’
by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News
Courtesy: King 5 News, Seattle, WA 

It’s one of the most isolated nations in the world, nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty and they’ve only had television for twelve years. So why are the people of Bhutan so happy, and why does the City of Seattle want us to be more like them? (more…)

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Happy Bhutan proposes a new global goal (MDG #9)

October 01, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Gross National Happiness, News, Sustainable Development

Sep 20, 2010 UNITED NATIONS — The introvert Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on Monday urged the world to adopt a new Millennium Development Goal — happiness — if it really wants to end the scourge of poverty, hunger and disease.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigmi Thinley, condemned the “dangerous and stupid” pursuit of wealth, even by some of his big and brash neighbours India and China, in a speech to the UN summit on reaching the MDGs.

The land of the Gross National Happiness index again sought to export its optimistic ideology, which the prime minister said encompassed all of the eight major goals set by the United Nations in 2000. (more…)

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