Gross Daily Happiness

 I read the following clip, in an article in an airlines magazine:

Bhutan is no bigger than Switzerland. 75% of it is forest land.  Conservation of forest and endangered species are the major national priorities along with prosperity. The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) launched by king Jigme Singye Wangchuk of Bhutan  is based on promoting sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of nature and establishment of good governance.

GNH appears to be a very well thought out and holistic concept. This prompted me to think in terms of Gross Daily Happiness and how to keep track of that. Here are a few suggestions for daily tracking of your GDH!

At the end of the day, we should have good health. After all, healthy body is the home for a healthy mind! There is an old Tamil proverb which translates to: “You can not paint any picture with out a wall (or a canvas) to paint on!” Have you done enough during the day, in terms of physical fitness and good food habits, to maintain a good and healthy body?

Good health is enjoyed when it is sustained by good thoughts and feelings. To be happy or unhappy is not a happen stance, but more often it is a matter of choice. All emotional responses eventually boil down to our preferences (choices) and our attachments (also matter of our choices) to them. Our thoughts and their directions are also matter of our choices. The subject matter we choose to reflect upon and the nature and degree of our analysis are all subject to our choices. Are you conscious and aware of your choices in your emotions, feelings and thoughts? In other words, how much are you “riding your horse” vs. how much is the “horse riding on you”?

Of course there is always a matter of nature and nurture! Nature is determined by the circumstances presented to us. Clearly circumstances include our own self, our immediate family and friends, society we live in or work at. Each of these can be very limited or with increasingly expanding scope. Nurture is what we do with these circumstances, as determined by our choices!

In tracking GDH, there will always be a tendency to dwell on the negatives: what is missing as opposed to what we have on hand or accessible to us? Let us make it a habit to count on all the positives for the day on all matters: (a) pertaining to our health, (b) our positive thoughts and feelings, (c) our positive set of choices in our actions and (d) the positive assesment of our circumstances. Let us make it a habit to reflect on all these positives each day, for one or two minutes, preferably at the end of the day, before the body retires into sleep. This could be the daily practice for tracking of Gross Daily Happiness! As the mind reflects on all these positives, let there be a sense of thankfulness, a sense of appreciation and gratefulness for these positive outcomes for the day. Let these positives impel us to stay focused and strive hard towards what is possible. As each drop adds to a large body of water, let this daily quotient of GDH lead to the recognition of the true reality, that we are endowed with a lot, even at the moments of deep difficulty! As we build this GDH let us be reflective and be sure that our GDH also includes what we have contributed to the GDH of those around us! In other words let the focus on GDH as a means to help us move towards a self-less and limit less world and not as a means for self constrained and limited view of the world.

This liberation, the perception of the larger reality, the life of immense possibilities is reflected in a story as told by Adi Sankara. This famous saint was deeply moved by a man, who was intensely engaged in his daily chores. While he was working hard, his grief was endless. No amount of prayers and rituals seemed to quench his grief and his feeling of despair. You could say that the GDH of this man was very low! While speaking to this man, Sankara pointed out to the parrot in the cage in the front yard of his house. Being a caged animal, the parrot had forgotten that it can fly freely and soar high. It will not leave the cage, even when the door was left open. Conditioned by all the training it had received, the parrot had acquired the strange habit of eating hot pepper and would reject sweet grapes! Then Sankara pointed out to the school of tiny ants moving about briskly from one place to another. They were all busy but they were going nowhere far! Then Sankara mentioned: “Look at these ants and this parrot. How many thousands of years of evolution are required for an ant to evolve into a parrot? Even then, this parrot is yet to realize its full potential. Now we say human is the most evolved of all living beings.” Then Sankara took the parrot to a wide open space and opened the cage. True to its nature, the parrot took flight and soared high towards the mountain top. Then he told the man, “Since you are far more evolved than the parrot, you need not wait for long. Let go of your self-imposed shackles of choices and preferences and habits. Then true to your nature, you will soar high in your liberated view of the world”.

Best wishes on your flight in your new-found freedom and as you soar to new heights in the coming New Year! May that bring a progressive increase in your GDH!!

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5 Responses to Gross Daily Happiness

  1. jayanthi says:

    Well said. We will try to remember positive thoughts, actions and choices.


  2. pushpa says:

    Very true and practical and easy to understand. Very appropriate statements for the beginning of a New Year

    Happy new year!

    Thank you very much all the efforts that gpes into this blog.

    May God Bless you and your family.



  3. Marci Cemenska says:

    There was an excellent article in the WSJ recently that basically said that research shows that grateful people are happier and healthier. Here are some of their suggestions to be more grateful: keep a gratitude journal; watch your language; savor good times; pause mindfully; go on a gratitude visit; and count blessings, not sheep.


  4. Mohan says:

    Happy New Year to one and all who happened to be reading this blog. I might also that a recent study suggested that one can become more creative in solving problems, should one be in a “happy mood” or a “positive mood”. That article published in the December 2010 issue of Psychological Science says that being in a “good” or a “positive” mood maybe just as easy as listening to a good piece of music that one loves, or marveling at a bird soaring to heights or observing the beauty around you – Happy and a “Positive” New Year to everyone!


  5. sumitra says:

    Thanks for the new year enlightenment!


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