Friday, December 19, 2008

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World - Eric Weiner

Thailand: Happiness is not Thinking

I mentioned to a few of my friends that Thailand is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Their response was to ask whether Weiner had interviewed anyone in the Thai entertainment industry. They had a point - much of Thailand spends its time entertaining wealthy Westerners. Not thinking about their job is probably the only way for many Thai to survive.

Weiner also brings up the concept of the Gross National Happiness Index. The governments of both Thailand and Bhutan are commited to this index. However, in the case of Thailand at least, it doesn't seem to have made anyone happier.

Thailand has recently been overwhelmed by political chaos. One group of protestors took over the Prime Minister's office for several months:

Someone eventually lobbed a grenade at them, but it was amazing that they could actually stay in there for weeks before the government took violent action. Happiness Index at work?

What is impressive is the attempt to revitilize the Thai tourism business, which was hampered by the fact that the anti-government protestors took over the airports, trapping foreigners in country:

Thailand may be a charming country but its population appears to now be thinking and they are not happy about their political structure. Let's see if the happiness index survives a tourism slowdown due to the sinking economies of the countries who once visited Thailand.

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