With our national focus on productivity and financial gain, we carefully measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other metrics related to our economic outputs. Yet as our economy remains strong, our nation suffers greatly in other categories.
Suicide rates have skyrocketed in recent years, while the opioid crisis has torn apart families and communities. Venom spews from politicians on both sides of the aisle, with our citizens more divided than ever. Divorce rates are up. Life expectancy is down. Childhood obesity climbs, our prisons are overfilled, racial tensions have been exacerbated, our environment is imperiled, while fear and anger are the norm. Despite incredible advances in technology and a booming economy, it seems our overall happiness and wellbeing has plummeted.
Makes me wonder… are we measuring the right things?
Perhaps we can learn something from the tiny country of Bhutan. Located high in the Himalayans between China and India, these 750,000 citizens beat to their own drum. Their key metric isn’t coal production or lumber output, but rather GNH. That’s right – Gross Domestic Happiness. According to the official governmental website:
Gross National Happiness, or GNH, is a holistic and sustainable approach to development, which balances material and non-material values with the conviction that humans want to search for happiness. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all the facets of life that are essential for our happiness.
The broader measure is broken down into nine core components, including community vitality, health, psychological well-being, time use, cultural resilience, and environment. Their balanced approach to measurement has the country focused on more than just the financial bottom line. The results? A thriving community. In fact, Bhutan is one of the few countries on earth that is carbon-negative. By all environment metrics, this country makes our planet healthier instead of sick- a rare condition in our increasing polluted world.
In our businesses and communities, we track our Key Performance Indicators with surgical precision. As they say, what gets measured gets improved. But are we missing some important key metrics? What about quality time spent with our kids? Exercising and getting ahead of health problems before we have a problem? Reading, learning, and expanding our minds? Caring for others, volunteering, creating positive impact for those around us?
Let’s take inventory of what matters most- how we want to be remembered. From there, we can set “Metrics that Matter” in addition to the standard measures of today. If we track the right things, we’ll elevate more than just our financial wellbeing. Like Bhutan, we can leave a positive fingerprint on the world.