Expanding our awareness and opening our mind and heart towards a wellbeing mindset is possible at different levels, be it individual, collective or global. For example, after a life-threatening motorbike accident in 1997, I began a quest for meaning, transformed my mindset and fundamentally changed my life. I went beyond my earlier pursuit of money, materialistic wealth, and career success towards following my heart. I have changed my career and joined social causes with NGOs and the United Nations. Now I appreciate the interdependence of life, universal spiritual wisdom of traditions around the world, and bridging science and spirituality.
A national example of a wellbeing mindset can be found in the Kingdom of Bhutan. The Himalayan country notably declared Gross National Happiness (GNH) to be more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).12 Bhutan has been heralded as a leading climate champion, absorbing more carbon emissions with its forests than it emits.13 During COVID, Bhutan’s holistic approach of putting people first has been a global success story with almost universal vaccination cover and close to zero deaths.14
While Bhutan has its own share of challenges, GNH fosters wellbeing of all sentient beings and planet, and thus is an outstanding source of inspiration for the mindset shift required to create a more harmonious economy and way of living. Promisingly, more countries are orienting their policies towards wellbeing, such as Canada, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, and Scotland.15
What can we do?
All individuals and organizations play a role in creating wellbeing, and a better and happier life. Consciously or unconsciously, we all together co-create our collective journey. We can rethink, create, and implement a growth paradigm that goes beyond the economy, and that includes inner, collective, and planetary wellbeing. We can acknowledge the limits of quantitative growth on a limited planet and instead shift to qualitative growth.
Based on both the research I have undertaken and my own personal experience, I know that increased mindfulness is an excellent starting point. As Thich Nhat Hanh highlighted, “mindfulness is the most reliable source of peace and joy…and our continuation as a civilization and a planet depend on it.”16 Key suggestions helpful in cultivating a wellbeing mindset are summarized in the following acronym MANTRA
indfulness: Take on a mindfulness practice.
wareness: Expand your awareness with inner work & raise awareness about key issues.
on-judging: Be compassionate and non-judging of yourself and others.
hink Positive: Be, think and act positively, as energy follows attention.
eal you: Be the real you by showing your true colors.
liveness: Enjoy and celebrate being alive by honoring life in all forms.
These practical tips are a beginning for growing individual and collective wellbeing, as well as a way of life harmonious with our Mother Earth.