My cycling journey about happiness that has covered some 20,000kms, across 25 countries, and lasted more than 500 days, is nearly at its end.
I am now at the Bhutanese border, about to enter the country world-renowned for its focus on happiness and well-being as an indicator of progress.
And the International Day of Happiness is fast approaching.
There has been a fair bit of happiness with me today as I made my way to the border with mountains that must have been Bhutan revealing themselves slowly. However, in this moment I am quite tired. Rather than be a leisurely final week it has been one of my more challenging ones. It was quite uncertain whether the bike and I would actually make it in one piece, and there has been a little bit of tension.
Though, I wonder…once I arrive in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, on International Day of Happiness on the 20th March, could I claim to be the happiest person in the world, in the happiest place, on the happiest day?
Perhaps it might be too bold to make such a claim. . .I’m only too aware that. . .
The achievement of goals that people believe will bring them happiness do not bring happiness, or at least not as much, nor for as long, as they think achieving that goal might or should. I have no reason to believe I will be an exception.
And whilst Bhutan may focus on happiness it is not actually the happiest place in the world, as people often mistake it to be. On average people in Bhutan rate their lives at 5.01 (ranked 97th out of 155), much lower than table topper Norway at 7.5, and comparable with Tajikistan, Nigeria, and Nepal. In actual fact Bhutan has fairly low material standards of living. It’s GDP per capita is about $3,000. Perhaps if the focus wasn’t on happiness and wellbeing GDP might be higher, but part of Bhutan’s happiness strategy is to develop sustainably. In doing so they potentially safeguard happiness and well-being in the future in a way that most of the high GDP countries, with their focus on growth at all costs may, are failing to do.
The 20th March, which marks the UN recognised International Day of Happiness, is probably not the happiest day of the year. Some claim that the happiest day of the year is actually 14th July for various reasons to do with summer vacation and long warm days (at least in temperate zones in the northern hemisphere). Yet it is a day when we will here many useful ideas as to how we might be happier in our lives. Then for the remaining 364 days it is back to business as usual – literally – and that can make it hard to actually implement many of these ideas.
I have no expectations as to how I might feel when I reach Thimpu on the 20th March 2019.
Perhaps I’ve already had my happiest moment related to the end of the journey. Maybe tiredness will still be with me and further, in realising what has been the focus of my life for the past year and a half yet seems much longer, wonder a little bit too deeply about what next, and sink into a deep sadness. Many things could happen. I’m open to all outcomes and what will come to pass will come to pass. I have no expectation. Nothing is certain but now. I accept what is. I am well supported.
***For more about the wider journey go here.