While most countries on our funny little planet stress incessantly about the relative ups and downs of their GNP, only one country has instead decided to focus on GNH – Bhutan.
GNP stands for Gross National Product, and is defined as “the market value of all the products and services produced in one year by labour and property supplied by the citizens of a country”. It’s meant to give you a sense of how busy a country is and how “well” they’re doing.
GNH, on the other hand stands for Gross National Happiness. And the Kingdom of Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure it.
The term was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and was introduced to ensure the country’s growing economy in the modern world would always remain true to their culture and Buddhist spiritual values.
Doesn’t that sound like a better way to measure how “well” a country is doing?
It was a great idea and wasn’t just a token gesture.Through collaboration with an international group of scholars and empirical researchers the Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined these four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. Although the GNH framework reflects its Buddhist origins, it is solidly based upon the empirical research literature of happiness, positive psychology and well-being.
Through collaboration with an international group of scholars and empirical researchers the Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined these four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness:
- Physical, mental and spiritual health
- Social and community vitality
- Cultural vitality
- Living standards
- Good governance
- Ecological vitality.
This has led to Bhutan being consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.
So how does this relate to migraine?
Stress has long been recognized as one of the major triggers for migraine and in our modern world, the daily catalysts for stress are endless.
We’re constantly evaluating our performance and possessions against marketing-invented standards and our peers. Forever trying to do more, have more and be more. Then forever calculating how much you are “producing” and finding an acronym for it. Like GNP.
In 2007 former medical school professor and research scientist Dr. Bruce H. Lipton wrote a groundbreaking book on the study of epigenetics called “The Biology Of Belief”. It’s an incredible read and revolutionary in its revelations of the power we each have to change our own bodies by changing our thinking. Through his studies (and those of other leading scientists) he demonstrates how our biology is controlled not so much by our genes and DNA, but by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.
In short, when you’re stressed and angry and unhappy, your body produces chemicals and stress based gene variants that have been linked to numerous modern epidemics and general poor health. Conversely, when you are relaxed and happy, your body produces chemicals and gene variants that promote wellness in and around your cells.
So the fourth Dragon King was way ahead of his time in 1972. By focusing on levels of happiness rather than levels of production, he ensured the health of his country’s citizens for decades to come. It seems the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine” was not just right, but now has the science of biology to back it up.