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Posted on on April 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Mary Judd works out of Albany, the Capital City of the State of New York.

UN Meeting on Happiness & Well-Being that was held in New York City – April 2-4, 2012:

Developing a New Economic Paradigm

and as well the movie HAPPY by award winning director Roko Belic

that had its own Global Discussion about Happiness with HAPPY Worldwide Movie Premiere

of Feb. 11, 2012  –  that was organized as a “World Happy Day”


The film HAPPY was inspired by a challenge. Executive producer Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty, Liar, Liar, Patch Adams) read a New York Times article ranking the U.S. 23rd in happiness. He asked Belic to find out why.

Belic investigated questions like,

•What is happiness and where does it come from?

•How do we balance the allure for money, power and social status with our need for strong social relationships, health and personal fulfillment?

Viewers are treated to a global cinematic quest that travels from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the mountains of Bhutan and beyond. Stories of joy, connection, adversity and courage are interspersed with interviews of several of the world’s leading experts in the science of happiness and well-being.


The PRESS release for the UN-sponsored Bhutan-led events – New York City – April 2 – 4, 2012:

The high-level meeting on “Happiness and Well Being: Defining A New Economic Paradigm” convened by the Royal Government of Bhutan on April 2 at United Nations headquarters in New York City took a major step towards a sustainable, holistic, inclusive, and equitable new economic development paradigm for the global community.

The conference was attended by about 700 political and government leaders, scholars, economists, philosophers, scientists, media, civil society, UN officials, entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders from the world’s major faiths. Two hundred participants continued intensive discussions on April 3 and 4 to work out details of the goals of the conference: to submit a report  to the Secretary General of the United Nations for distribution to all UN member states; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies, based on happiness and well beingWell-being, to all heads of government around the world; to draft a new development paradigm to be submitted to the UN General Assembly next year; and to build a global movement and design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness and advance the new economic paradigm.

The conference proposed that the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, convene a commission of experts to expand on the dimensions of the new economy. The Prime Minister will also present the report of the conference at the Rio+20 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, to be held in Brazil in June of this year.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring, at the same time,, the survival of all species with  which we share this planet.”

Inspired by the Bhutanese development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, the April 2 conference was a follow up to the 2011 United Nations Resolution that invited member countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies”.  The resolution was co-sponsored by 68 countries and endorsed by all the member nations of the United Nations.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when he inaugurated the conference. “Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress. Bhutan recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income in the early 1970s.”

Among the U.N. leadership and representatives of governments were the President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdul Aziz Al-Nasser; President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Miloš Koterec ; and the UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, who chaired the opening session. High-level representatives of governments around the world addressed the conference, with the keynote address given by Ms. Laura Chinchilla, President of the Republic of Costa Rica, a country which is universally recognized for its outstanding achievements in environmental conservation and its exemplary sustainable development record.

Ms. Chinchilla said that there were many paths to happiness. “Human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity, and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu,” she said. “But the more global initiative, unanimously embraced by the United Nations, is the one launched by Bhutan. It is thanks to this initiative that we have met today, in this house of all the people of the United Nations, and from now on we will be players in its evolution.””

Representing the Prime Minister of India, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, thanked Bhutan for bringing happiness to the discourse on sustainable development. “We share your belief that human development should be based in equal measure on material progress, social inclusion, cultural life and living in harmony with nature,” she said. “Our religious traditions,traditions and philosophies have all taught us to look for inner peace and happiness as the ultimate objective.”

The conference focused on a new economic paradigm in a perspective of four dimensions with well-being and happiness as the accepted purpose of development. “I believe that the majority of people around the world today are contemplating the issue of the soundness of the present way of life and the need for a different way of life,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley. “They are seeking a way of life that is more meaningful, sustainable, just and equitable, a way of life that will lead each of us to an ultimate goal,goal, and that is happiness.”

Expert panelists spoke on strategies to reach this goal. Professor Robert Costanza, Distinguished University Professor of Sustainability at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of Solutions magazine, pointed out that there had been dramatic changes in the world. “We no longer live in a relatively empty world,” he said. “We live in a whole new geologic era. We’ve also framed this issue in a very negative way. We need a better way of integrating these different perspectives. We’re also learning that complex systems behave in complex ways. We can’t expect things to behave smoothly… And the basic point here is that sustainable human happiness requires a healthy ecological life system, so I think that’s one of the primary building blocks of a sustainable and desirable future.”

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and the Former President of the Republic of Chile, said that the goal of human well-being must include all of humanity – women and men, girls and boys. “When I’m talking about inclusiveness, I’m talking about what is the kind of world we are dealing with today where, out of seven billion people 5.1 billion, or 75% of the world, are not covered with any minimal social security – a world that is so high in inequalities,” she said. “We need ethical leadership that can ensure fair distribution that is demanded everywhere, by those who are crying and asking for freedom and social justice in their world… so we need leadership to uproot greed, corruption, and repression.”

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics, Columbia University, said that efficient use of resources was critical. “What we measure affects what we do, and the reason for creating better metrics is to affect our policy, and that’s why it’s so important what Bhutan has done – Gross National Happiness – it really does change policy frameworks,” he said. “We have to be very conscious that people in our society, different people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.”

While panelists focused on the dimensions of the new economic paradigm, the conference heard impassioned statements by personalities known for seminal academic work and thinking on happiness, well-being, sustainability, the economy and spiritual traditions. The Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist scholar, of the Shechen Monastery, Nepal, emphasized the importance of mind training and interpretation of happiness as a skill. “In the end, it is our mind that translates the outer conditions into either genuine happiness or misery,” he explained. “It is our mind that we deal with from morning till evening. It is our minds that can be our best friends, our worst enemy. So we should not underestimate the power of mind to conjour happiness or suffering. Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love and, serenity, which, that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month.”

On April 1, 2012, one A day before the conference the Earth Institute at Columbia University hosted a meeting of about 100 academics, scientists, and philosophers, including four Nobel Laureates, and unveiled the “World Happiness Report”. The report presents methodological tools, assessment procedures, and scientific support for the measurement of happiness as a development indicator and also grades the countries of the world on these new dimensions.

According to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, large-scale collection of happiness data will improve macroeconomic policy-making and can inform service delivery. “Four steps to improve policy-making are the measurement of happiness, explanation of happiness, putting happiness at the centre of analysis, and translation of well-being research into design and delivery of services,” he said.

Among the distinguished spiritual leaders were Abbot Roshi Joan Halifax, Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Swami Atmapriyananda, Rabbi Awarham Soetendorp, Kalsang Gyaltsen, Jane Carpenter, Ken Kitatani, and others, who addressed the conference on the importance of well-being and happiness from spiritual perspectives, and led the gathering in silent meditation and prayer.

The United Nations Conference on Well-being and Happiness was watched by several million people through conventional and social media that allowed both images and sounds of the visibly enthusiastic media to be picked up by the digital world..

The Bhutanese delegates at the conference said that the global response was overwhelming and that the expectations of the global community were somewhat intimidating and also inspiring for Bhutan.

For Further Details, Please Contact:

Sonam Tobgay

The Permanent Mission of Bhutan

Tel: 1-646-705-2313

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