In search of happiness

Not happy with his former job, 38-year-old Christopher Boyce, a researcher from Scotland quit his job, left his home and travelled to Bhutan on a bicycle journey covering 20,000 kilometers as part of a personal journey to find happiness and give a new meaning and purpose to his life.

Before he quit his job, Christopher Boyce was doing PhD in Economics, but unhappy with what he was learning, he decided to study Psychology instead of Economics in order to understand the nature of people and way people behave or respond to certain situations.

Christopher spent many years in different universities trying to understand what are the most important contributor of happiness, but he realized that he need to travel and explore happiness through a non-academic lens.

He said, “I woke up one day and realized that this job isn’t bringing me happiness and what I wanted to do was create a journey based on happiness. I wanted to travel in a way that was beneficial for my happiness as well as other people.”

He said he chose to travel to Bhutan because he read about Bhutan and he has always wanted to visit Bhutan.

“In most of the countries that I have visited, people are often being reminded that being happy is also important but Bhutan is a country where a reminder to be happy is not needed,” said Christopher.

He pointed out that Bhutan is not the only country, as there are many places where people are happy with what they have and where relationships and emotions are more important than economic and financial wellbeing.

“Even though travelling on a bicycle is tiring and painful, I chose bicycling because bicycling brings me lots of consciousness. It brings about a connection with people and it builds relationships and from my research I have learnt that nothing could be more important for happiness than the relationships that we have with people.”

He said he has been in Bhutan for about 3 days and his experience in Bhutan is very different.

Christopher said that the people in Bhutan are little bit reserved and so it is hard to understand, saying that a lot of his understanding about Bhutan has come from questions from via the guide to the people he has stayed with.

“In Bhutan the philosophy of happiness is more embedded in society. People are very welcoming and very friendly and very willing to serve and not because you are a tourist. People are very open once you get to know them.  But when it comes to travelling in rural areas, it is hard to interact with people as their English is bad and I can only interact through smiles”, he said.

“Buddhism is very ingrained in the culture and I think Buddhism as a religion has a lot to say about happiness and there is lot of acceptance here. Culture and tradition is very visible in Bhutan and it’s so beautiful how people in Bhutan respect their culture and tradition”, he added.

He said, that of the most wonderful things that he experienced during his travel is going to the local market as he believes that is real life. “We can feel the flow of life”.

Christopher said he wanted to travel to places which he thinks are particularly progressive when it comes to trying to create systems or environments which enable human happiness.

“I want to go to place like South America to understand why people in South America are are not happier than you would think even though they are rich and I want to experience that. I want to travel to places like Costa Rica where you can see pure life and where I get to hear from people that ‘we are humble, we don’t have much and we don’t need much but we are happy.’ That’s a very powerful thing and I think lots of countries could learn from them that we don’t need more and we are happy with what we have”, he added.

Talking about the world happiness rankings and Bhutan’s low position on it, he said the listing is very narrow in their focus and possibly culturally biased toward favoring financially rich countries.

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One comment

  1. There is a massive shift of mentality and perspective required for a westerner to appreciate the Bhutanese concept of happiness; the interaction between the physical environment and human value systems that are informed by a deep reverence for the spiritual values of Buddhism exemplified in many monastic places of prayer; these are not measured in GNP and there is not a universal template of Gross National Happiness that can be de-structured. Overall, a deep commitment to spiritual rather than material values does not come easily to many westerners..

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