It may be time to think about a trade-in. Goodbye bigger-is-better, happiness-is-a-Hummer, excess-is-best American Dream, hello Bhutan Bliss.
Yep, Bhutan. Little country somewhere in the Himalayas. It's attracting a lot of attention - even envy - these days, because instead of pursuing the old dream of a red-hot economy, it is pursuing an even older dream: The pursuit of happiness. Bhutan's 49-year-old king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has made it his goal to increase his country's GNH - Gross National Happiness.
This may sound about as sensible as basing an economy on lollipop exports, but the king is serious. In his 30-odd years at the helm, he has made preserving the environment a priority and decreed that 60% of Bhutan's land must remain wooded. He opened schools throughout the country, where there had been no public education before 1960. Teachers get rotated from city schools to rural ones to ensure all kids get the same quality of education.... Anyone sick can choose between Western and traditional medicine, because both are respected. And from 1984 to 1998, life expectancy increased a whopping 19 years, to 66.
"America's priorities are out of whack," states [Betsy] Taylor, president of The New American Dream, an organization with 83,000 members dedicated to "Less stuff, more fun."
"I think people would welcome a debate about Bhutan vs. the U.S.," says Taylor. "Who's really living life to the fullest? Is it the people who can take a long afternoon stroll in the forest? Or is it the people who eat lunch at their desk, shop at lunchtime, rush home exhausted and then continue to work at home?"
If they have wireless internet, I'm so there.