It is worth emphasizing that Bhutanese views on happiness are diverse and complex and have been expressed in the religious and cultural traditions of Bhutan for many centuries. The majority of people in Bhutan are Vajrayana Buddhists, who believe that happiness is to be found in liberation from negative emotions such as greed, hatred, desire and pride. However, the Vajrayana School places a particular emphasis on Tantric Buddhism, which holds that these negative emotions are not to be rejected outright, but used as part of the path for overcoming them, being transformed in the process.
This element of Vajrayana Buddhism clearly influenced the concept of Gross National Happiness, for which Bhutan has become known. The former King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, who reigned from 1972 to 2006, declared in an interview in the first year of his reign that Gross National Happiness was more important than Gross National Product. However, the policy of GNH was only written into the Constitution of Bhutan in 2008, after the king's abdication.
The government policy of GNH, the former king's personal views on happiness, and the precepts and practices about happiness which are generally observed in Bhutan are three different things. However, they all include the idea of embracing and transforming negative emotions and experiences, rather than rejecting them outright. The government has endeavored to ensure that the values of GNH accurately reflect those people already hold by collecting extensive data, mainly in the form of extensive nationwide surveys conducted in 2008, 2010, and 2015. GNH includes factors such as mental and physical health, community, ecology, education, and use of time to measure happiness. Happiness, therefore, in Bhutanese culture as well as most other major religious and ethical traditions, is regarded not as an emotion, but as a balanced, sustainable and harmonious way of life.