The little nation of Bhutan chose to make Gross National Happiness its primary measure of national success long, long before anyone else was talking about positive psychology. Today it looks like the little kingdom had tremendous foresight.

Doesn’t measuring Gross National Happiness make sense at a very intuitive level? The idea is simply that non-economic measures of well being are more important than traditional measures of national wealth. Of course, wealth factors into well-being, but it is a relatively small factor. Much evidence exists that wealthier people are not happier than people who make adequate incomes (roughly $75,000 in a North American household).

So if happiness does not follow necessarily from wealth, why do almost all nations use monetary measures as the prime indicator of national success? What is the most important human attainment: happiness or material accumulation?

Things are starting to change. More and more mainstream opinion leaders are recognizing that national (and global) success cannot be measured by the monetary quantification of the goods and services produced. The United Kingdom officially uses Happiness as a measure of social policy success. Other countries are beginning to incorporate similar measures. And, of course, several global think tanks have been doing so for a number of years.

If you want to learn the case for Gross National Happiness, here is an academic explanation for the benefits and merit of using happiness as a measure of national success: