2019: ‘Happier Together!’
The United Nations’ International Day of Happiness announces its global theme in 2019: “Happier Together!” and urges all global citizens to connect with one another, with family in particular, and with others in your community, and make life happier where you are. Turn your frowns upside down, and smile.
Last month, the Global Happiness Council presented in Dubai a report on the 2019 “Global Happiness and Well-Being Policy.” Happiness researchers, using scientific means, agree in principle that happiness is equated with well-being, not well-having; and with solidarity, not egocentricity.
Humankind, it appears, reaches harmony not when everyone possesses many things (fat bank/bitcoin account, house and lot in a posh village, latest smartphones, fancy cars, etc.) but when “having” goes up to the next level of “being,” from self-centeredness to genuine self-appreciation to other-centeredness and altruism – otherwise known as the art of living, sharing, and loving.
Why ‘being’ is far better than ‘having’
That fame, power, and fortune can bring about lasting joy is a myth. A lifestyle that is full of quantifiable and delectable chattels is absolutely not a reliable barometer of true happiness. Possessing or “having” a dump truck of money can’t buy you love or happiness. Affluence doesn’t guarantee peace, but “being” your true self and “being” with loved ones in harmony does.
There are people who get so busy making a living (having) that they forget to make a life (being). They chase after fame and fortune all their lives, thinking that gold and other corporeal treasures would bring lifetime delight and fulfillment. But these don’t.
Stars shine, oh yes, and they know how to enjoy the perks of prosperity. But the dazzling galaxy of the rich and the famous doesn’t always look like what it seems. “All that glitters is not gold,” goes the song. Life is way too tough for them, so much so that, when left alone in the night, many of them are down in the mouth.
On the contrary, the art of “being,” the polar opposite of “having” (although there are those who “are” and “have” and at the same time), breeds contentment and, when contented even with the little you have, you cannot but go up to the next level: The art of living, sharing, and loving.
Why Bhutan is the happiest place on earth
The King of Bhutan once said “Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important than Gross National Product (GNP).” It means “being” is far better than “having.” Just as GNP has a matrix system, GNH also has its own matrix that measures the socio-psychological well-being of its citizens, who manage both spiritual and material happiness equally. Unlike the Philippines (the center of social media in the world) of the new millennium, Bhutan doesn’t care much about video streaming, Snapchat, playing e-games, or virtual friendship in Facebook.
With lesser techie distractions and wifi connections, Bhutan citizens enjoy more direct and face-to-face interaction among themselves. There’s dynamism and vitality in their communities, very much like those of our Filipino ancestors in small towns outside Manila, where once upon a time everyone knew everyone.
Bhutan believes that health is wealth, that education of the youth must be prioritized, that honesty, service to others, and good governance are indexes of being fulfilled. Situated in the peaceful Himalayan Mountains, well over 50% of the country is protected as a national park. It is to Mother Nature without plastic sachets they go regularly in order to seek and find Sister Serenity, and not in megamalls.
Finally, the Bhutan people know how to focus on what they have in common, rather than what divides them, hence you see what cultural diversity is in its most elegant display. Respect for others is a must. Because the gap between the ordinary citizens/common tao of the street and the royalty isn’t that wide, Bhutan seems to be the perfect place to experience “Happier Together.”
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have,” wise men say. Well, it’s an art that you practice every single day, the art of “being” and well-being, which leads to the art of living, sharing, and loving. Happier Together!
Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano ([email protected]) is the author of 24 PLUS Contemporary People: God Writing Straight with Twists and Turns (Claretian, 2019).