Balloons of Bhutan

Every once in a while, you run across something on the web that is exceptional.  The ol’ laptop is good at spewing forth tons of content that’s entertaining, but it’s harder to find things that are… Inspiring.  Peaceful.  True.

What makes people happy?  We go to such lengths to measure GNP (Gross National Product) but isn’t Gross National Happiness even more important?

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Instead of “Gross National Product”, Bhutan uses “Gross National Happiness” to measure its socio-economic prosperity, essentially organizing its national agenda around the basic tenets of Buddhism. Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singe Wangchuck, invented the idea in 1972, to give his tiny country some international clout and guard against potential future invasion by its two mighty neighbors (India and China).  (taken from


Jonathan Harris traveled to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, taking a snapshot of happiness.  He asked people 5 questions:

  • What make you happy?
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • What is your favorite joke?
  • What is your level of happiness, between 1 and 10?
  • If you could make one wish, what would it be?

He recorded people’s answers and took beautiful photos as he traveled.

The recordings and pictures are beautiful, simple, and honest.

How many balloons are you holding?

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.

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