Gross National Happiness

My personal mission is to be a spark that ignites positive, sustainable change in the lives of youth.  Thankfully, I have an opportunity to partner with key stakeholders in the process of fulfilling this mission (i.e. parents).  Before I share any of my leadership strategies with parents, I often ask them a simple question: “What is it that you want most for your child?”  While their answers often include words like responsibility, confidence, and work ethic, the single most popular answer is…I JUST WANT MY CHILD TO BE HAPPY.

Well, the last time I checked, there weren’t any happiness objectives in the newly released Common Core, which aims to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn.  I won’t belabor the many shortcomings of Common Core, but I do have one question that I would address to the bureaucracy that drafted these standards.  When will we start addressing the “core” of our children: their social and emotional well-being?

You see, the legislatures who create these initiatives are more concerned with the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of our country than they are the GNH (Gross National Happiness).  According to Wikipedia, GDP is defined as the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.  And yet, goods and services are produced by human beings and human beings are fueled by emotion.  It seems fairly straightforward that if we increased the Gross National Happiness of our country, happier people would be more productive, which would mean a natural increase in Gross Domestic Product.  As a result of this process, we might even end up with a GHS (Grossly Happy Society).  Far from what we have now.

If we’re looking for examples, Bhutan is a country leading the way in the happiness movement (see video below).  Perhaps our country’s leaders could pay a visit to this tiny nation and use their model to redraft the Common Core.  As we move forward, it’s important to remember that our Declaration didn’t promise us happiness, but rather the pursuit of happiness.  Will you join me in making happiness a part of every child’s education?


  1. Happiness, a love of learning, a sense of belonging, physical and mental creativity and building a classroom community are the key elements to a successful learning environment.
    Common Core tells us what to teach and what to test. The delivery is up to the teacher. We need to focus on teacher development for the 21st century, so that our teachers understand not how to be the sage on the stage, but the facilitator of learning experiences.
    One of the great joys of being an educator is helping students identify their strengths and understand how to help themselves when faced with a problem solving situation. I believe that great teachers will find a way to encourage learners to be successful while meeting the guidelines of CC.

  2. wouldn’t it be great in a day and age where children spend more than 1/2 their waking hours at school in a group seeting if a small part of the week were focused on lessons dealing with the emotional and social self. I wonder how much healthier relationships and people might be. Similar to what you do with the children at Brisas at every grade level once a month. Once a month is a beginning, but more than that is needed to help heal our wounded country of children who are screaming for attention.

    • Thank you for your comment Cyndia. I agree that we should dedicate more time for social and emotional reflection in schools. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to do this at Brisas and I’m grateful for your support.


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