Bhutan is the Happiest Country in the World? Why is it #1?

What makes Bhutan so happy? Why is it the happiest country in the world? According to the 2021 World Happiness Report (WHR), Bhutan is the happiest country in the world, due to its focus on developing a unique Gross National Happiness (GNH) model.

This model is centered around creating a balanced and sustainable development that takes into account various aspects of happiness, such as psychological well-being, health, education, living standards, good governance, and ecological diversity.

This focus on national well-being has been a great success, and is vastly different from other countries who prioritize economic factors over happiness. As a result, Bhutan has become a leader in happiness policy, and has replaced the traditional GDP-based view of the economy. 

Is Bhutan Happier Than Finland?

bhutan happiest country

Bhutan is ranked 95th happiest country in the world (out of 156 countries) according to the 2021 World Happiness Report. However, Finland is the number 1 happiest country according to this report, but this statistic can be misleading since it is based on socio-economic factors, such as: 

  • Income
  • Healthy life expectancy
  • Having someone to count on in times of trouble
  • Generosity
  • Freedom and trust, and
  • Absence of corruption in business and government

WHR does not measure other important factors that indicate

  • How much people smile, 
  • How much they actually enjoy their lives, 
  • Social inclusion, 
  • Overall health of population, 
  • Lack of psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, 
  • National levels of suicide, and more. 

If these factors were considered, Bhutan’s ranking would be much higher and Finland would no longer be the number 1 happiest country, losing its 4 year leading title.

Moreover, Finland is not the leading voice on the topic of happiness on the international stage–Bhutan is. This is why economies all over the world are looking to the 95th happiest country in the world for advice on how to effectively implement policies that will improve their citizens’ wellbeing and happiness. Unfortunately, many countries have made irreversible decisions that make it impossible to become a country like Bhutan, while Bhutan is still claiming that it can be like any other country in the world.

Ultimately, the road to happiness is long and full of bumps. The end result won’t be the same as happiness in Bhutan, and it certainly won’t be the same if countries focused on happiness as their main economic growth indicator from the start, as Bhutan has done. However, happiness is still possible. The rest of the world just needs to understand their best and worst practices and adopt them to make the most out of their economies.

Luckily, Bhutan is more than interested in making this world the happiest it can be, not only for its own citizens, but for everyone else. It is offering its several decade long experience to anyone who will listen, as they understand that we are all living in an interconnected world where everyone’s decisions affect everyone else. 

The government of Bhutan has taken the initiative to spread the word about the importance of happiness and its positive effect on the economy. From hosting the World Happiness Summit to launching the Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan is doing its part to make the world a better place for everyone. I just hope that our governments will listen to what Bhutan has to say.

Happiness-Centered Model of Economy

bhutan happiest country

Richard Easterlin, professor of economics at the University of Southern California, confirms the urgent need to move away from a money-centered model of economy to a happiness-based model, stating that economic growth has failed to make us happier since the 50th.

He has shown that there is a limit to the positive impact of economic growth on overall happiness. While there may be an initial increase in happiness as a result of economic growth, beyond a certain point, this increase levels off and does not continue to rise with further economic growth. This means that in order to increase overall happiness, it is necessary to look beyond economic growth.

It is becoming increasingly clear that a holistic approach to development is necessary in order to ensure that nations and societies are able to maximize their happiness. This approach must consider a range of factors and indicators, including economic growth, but also taking into account other aspects such as access to health care, educational opportunities, and quality of life. Only through such an approach can we ensure that the world’s citizens are able to achieve the highest levels of happiness possible.

Bhutan and Happiness: What We Need to Know

Bhutan is a stunningly beautiful country located in the southern part of the Himalayan Mountains. It is home to approximately 4.3 million people who speak the primary language of Lhoka. In 1976, Bhutan officially joined the United Nations (UN) and since then, has become one of the most progressive and innovative members in regards to sustainable development, human rights, refugees, gender equality, and sustainable economic development. 

Thanks to these policies, Bhutan has earned the well-deserved title of “the Happiest Country in the World” as recognized by BBC News series, “The World’s Happiest Countries.” This is attributed to the unique Gross National Happiness (GNH) index that Bhutan uses to measure the wellbeing of its citizens. The GNH index looks at four key dimensions: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. All of these factors are taken into account when making decisions that will benefit the country and its citizens.

The emphasis on promoting a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle for its citizens is what sets Bhutan apart from the rest of the world. Policies such as free health care, free education, and the preservation of the environment are all part of what makes Bhutan so successful in achieving its goals. By looking at Bhutan as an example, other countries could learn from their success and strive to create a better world for their citizens. Bhutan is a shining example of what is possible when a country puts a premium on the wellbeing of its citizens.

Bhutan is the Happiest Country in the World According to GNH

Bhutan happiest country

Bhutan has been on a mission to replace Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a more meaningful metric to measure a country’s level of happiness, and in response, developed the Gross National Happiness (GNH) score. This score is calculated by subtracting the global rank of the country from its total score, with the highest score being 100. Bhutan has worked hard to identify areas of economic policy that would contribute to this new model of social growth, and invested heavily in these areas.

After a few decades of investing into GNH, Bhutan has been recognized as the happiest country in the world according to the GNH model. This score was calculated using data from Gallup World Poll surveys, which interviewed more than 15,000 people from each country. Bhutan’s average GNH score is 7.59, which is the highest amongst all other countries with the next highest being 7.62 and the lowest being 5.36. 

This indicates that Bhutan has a relatively high level of happiness, but this can vary depending on factors such as location, living conditions, and culture. Bhutan has set an example for the world that happiness should not be measured solely by economic gains, and rather should be based on the holistic well-being of its citizens.

Bhutan’s Human Development Index (HDI)

Bhutan’s Human Development Index (HDI) is a valuable measure of the well-being of countries around the world. In 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the HDI to provide an objective measure of the quality of life in different nations. The HDI score was calculated by considering life expectancy at birth, educational rates among children under 15 years old, per capita income, and the availability of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

In comparison to other Asian countries, Bhutan had an impressive score of 829 points, 117 points higher than the scores of Nepal (627 points), Bangladesh (531 points), and Thailand (531 points). This suggests that Bhutan has a relatively high level of well-being. However, it is important to take into account that Bhutan’s score did not meet the UNDP criteria for gross national income or GDP. 

Gross national income or GDP is money earned by a nation’s economy based on how much goods are sold versus how much they are produced or labor employed to make goods or services available in the market. This could explain why Bhutan’s HDI score is lower than other countries in the region, despite its relatively high level of well-being.

Impact of Religion on Bhutan’s Happiness

bhutan happiest country meditating

Bhutan has a long history of Buddhist practices. Buddhism is a major source of national identity and is deeply intertwined with the Bhutanese way of life. It is estimated that two-thirds of the country’s population is Buddhist. Buddhism provides spiritual guidance and a moral compass for Bhutanese citizens.

The teachings of Buddhism are widely accepted in Bhutan, and it is seen as a way to achieve inner peace and happiness. Buddhism emphasizes that happiness comes from within, and that it is not dependent on material wealth. Bhutanese citizens are encouraged to pursue spiritual and material development in balance.

Buddhist principles of compassion, non-violence and respect for all life forms are deeply ingrained in Bhutanese culture. For example, it is a cultural norm to show respect to elders, to practice compassion to all living creatures, and to be honest and truthful.

Buddhism also provides an ethical framework for decision-making, which helps to promote national happiness. The teachings of Buddhism emphasize the importance of harmony and cooperation, and emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions. By following these teachings, Bhutanese citizens are able to be mindful of their actions and ensure that they are leading lives that are beneficial to themselves and others, which in turn affects national happiness.

Promoting Happiness, Sustainability, and Growth

The country has implemented a range of initiatives to reduce poverty and inequality, while at the same time protecting its environment and promoting economic growth. To further enhance these efforts, Bhutan has also implemented a number of innovative policies and practices to promote sustainability.

In order to reduce poverty and inequality, Bhutan has invested heavily in rural infrastructure to improve access to education, healthcare, and other essential services for its citizens. The country has also implemented a number of initiatives to improve access to quality education, such as the “Education for All” campaign. To further promote education, Bhutan has also launched initiatives to modernize its educational systems, with a focus on providing digital literacy skills to its citizens. 

In terms of healthcare, Bhutan has made great progress in providing universal healthcare coverage, as well as access to essential medicines and medical facilities. The country has also launched initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles and preventative healthcare, such as its “Healthy Bhutan” campaign, which seeks to reduce chronic diseases and improve health literacy. 

In addition, Bhutan has made significant strides in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable development. The country is actively investing in green energy technologies, such as wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass energy. The country also has a “Green Economy” policy, preserving its country and preserving its forests. To further promote sustainability, Bhutan has also implemented a number of climate change mitigation measures, such as a carbon tax and the establishment of protected areas. 

Bhutan: The Land of Untouched Beauty

bhutan happiest horse

It is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, boasting over 100 national parks, including Gopeng and Tashiding, which are home to snow leopards and ibex (hardy goats). The country also offers a wealth of trekking and mountaineering opportunities in its many mountains.

Bhutan has one of Asia’s longest dry seasons, when temperatures drop below freezing for an entire month. During this period, farmers do not cultivate their crops. Instead, they pick wild herbs and vegetables. This means that Bhutanese food is wholesome, unprocessed, and healthy, with no added salt or sugar. Most hot drinks are plain water or tea with a few spices. added to make it more palatable. 

When you visit Bhutan, you won’t need to ask for directions. You will simply follow your nose and your intuition once you get there. You’ll find yourself captivated by its beauty, culture, and traditions. From breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains framed by lush valleys, to fascinating cultural traditions and sacred monasteries, Bhutan has something to offer everyone. 

For the adventurous, there are plenty of hiking routes, white-water rivers, pristine lakes, and rivers teeming with life. You can also take advantage of the many local shops, eateries, and markets, where you can sample some of the country’s delicious cuisine. No matter what your interests, you’ll find something to love about Bhutan.

Leading Happiness Charge by Example

The success of Bhutan has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world. In recent years, more and more countries have begun to implement similar strategies and policies in order to promote a healthier and happier lifestyle for their citizens. 

Additionally, more and more countries are beginning to recognize the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing. By introducing strategies such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, countries can help their citizens to reduce stress levels and promote positive mental health. 

By looking to Bhutan as an example, other countries can learn from its success and strive to create a better world for their citizens. Bhutan has proven that it is possible to create a society that is prosperous, happy, and environmentally conscious. This just reinforces the point that with the right strategies and policies in place, we can create a world that is better for everyone.

Roman Russo

Roman Russo

Roman Russo is the visionary founder, senior happiness coach, and Chief Happiness Officer of Optimal Happiness. He has written the revolutionary Optimal Happiness: The Fastest and Surest Way to Reach Your Happiest Potential, a must-read book about achieving our happiest potential. After researching this field for over eight years, Roman is confident that anyone can become happy and invites us to undertake this transformation. Are you ready to start living the life you always meant to live?

2 thoughts on “Bhutan is the Happiest Country in the World? Why is it #1?”

  1. Pingback: A Culture of Happiness: A New Book by Tho Ha Vinh

Leave a Reply


No more excuses. Here is your ultimate formula for happiness today and forever. Discover it today in our book: Optimal Happiness: The Fastest & Surest Way To Reach Your Happiest Potential ( 

This book presents the quickest and surest way to go from whatever state of happiness or unhappiness you have today to your Optimal Happiness. Stop suffering and start living. Stop unnecessary negative emotions and reach your potential. Happiness guaranteed! 

Recent Posts

Follow on Facebook

Or Follow Us On

Happiness Newsletter

Win our exclusive happiness coaching session when subscribing to our transformational Happiness Newsletter.​​

    You May also like

    %d bloggers like this: