4 lessons from Bhutan on the pursuit of happiness above GDP

The Himalayan Kingdom best known for its concept of "Gross National Happiness."

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Waking to the sound of monks chanting prayers and drumming their gongs during countless traditional pujas, a ceremony of honour, worship and devotion; running up the steep Himalayan mountain slopes under colourful prayer flags hung between trees in the lush natural landscape; looking out at the expanse of forests and mountains that surrounded its capital city, Thimphu.
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Why are there so many humans?

Having lots of kids is great for the success of the species. But there's a hitch.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
Something curious happened in human population history over the last 1 million years.
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World population will begin to shrink after 2064

Is that such a bad thing?

Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
  • According to new research at the University of Washington, a significant population decline will begin after 2064.
  • The reasons include more access to contraception and better education for girls and women.
  • Many countries will have to grapple with the social and financial consequences of their decline.
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  • Astronaut Garrett Reisman took in countless indescribably beautiful views while he lived in space. But most shocking, he says, was observing the thinness of Earth's atmosphere.
  • You can compare the thickness of the atmosphere to the diameter of Earth to the skin on an apple, or the shell of an egg. It's incredibly thin and shows just how seemingly fragile our planet is.
  • But to put this into perspective, whereas the atmosphere reaches a height of 300,000 feet from Earth's surface, the deepest part of the ocean only reaches 35,000 feet, ten times thinner than Earth's atmosphere. Everything we experience on Earth, from sea to sky, exists on just a tiny slice of precious surface coating.
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How should we reimagine society post-COVID-19?

Coronavirus has given us the opportunity to reframe and rethink society from its foundation.

  • There have been many lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis. According to Acumen founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, one of the primary lessons has been that humans are interdependent creatures in an interconnected world.
  • "The coronavirus has laid bare the gaping wounds of our society that had grown too individualistic over the last 30-50 years and reinforced our interdependence in the most profound ways," Novogratz says, adding that the current situation has given us a chance to rethink and rebuild society from a new moral framework.
  • Placing humanity and community at the center, focusing more on helping the poor and vulnerable, and engaging more in collaboration instead of competition is how our post-COVID-19 society will succeed.

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