The term Gross National Happiness (GNH), says Rajni Bakshi at Alternet, was "coined by Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, when he ascended the throne in 1972. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture permeated by Buddhist spiritual values."

According to the Sustainability Dictionary, GNH "measures actual well-being of a country's citizens rather than consumption, accounting more fully for social, human and environmental realities. Its premise is that basic happiness can be measured since it pertains to quality of nutrition, housing, education, health care and community life. By contrast, the conventional concept of Gross National Product (GNP) measures only the sum total of material production and exchange in any country."

"Today," adds Rajni Bakshi, "the concept of GNH resonates with a wide range of initiatives, across the world, to define prosperity in more holistic terms and to measure actual wellbeing rather than consumption."