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Gross National Happiness In A Developing Nation10:43

Bhutanese novice Buddhist monks stand outside a monastery in the capital of Thimphu, Bhutan. (Kevin Frayer/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Bhutanese novice Buddhist monks stand outside a monastery in the capital of Thimphu, Bhutan. (Kevin Frayer/AP)

Go to a local bookstore's self-help section and you'll see a flood of titles on how to be happy.

But one small country at the eastern end of the Himalyas has centered its entire public policy around that very goal — happiness.

Bhutan has become known for focusing more on gross national happiness than gross national product. But even in what some have called "the last Shangri-La," consumerism is seeping in.

The country's expecting more tourists as it opens up to new flights from India. Policymakers are debating whether to join the World Trade Organization. TV is being introduced. Drug abuse, domestic violence and vandalism are popping up for the first time ever.


Madeline Drexler, editor of Harvard Public Health magazine. Senior fellow at Brandeis University's Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Author of "A Splendid Isolation: Lessons on Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan."


The New York Times: More Trips To The Rivers And Temples Of Bhutan

  • "Although the government tightly controls tourism, Bhutan is now offering a lengthening menu of adventures, often collaborations with American outfitters, as well as lodging and transportation options."

International Business Times: How Do You Get From Kathmandu To LA? Wrong! Bhutan Refugees Learn The Ins And Outs Of Air Travel

  • "In 1990, thousands of ethnic Nepalis (also called Lhotsampas) fled Bhutan in the wake of new citizenship laws and threats from the Buddhist palace to conform to a monolithic national dress, language and culture."


This segment aired on February 18, 2014.

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