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“Balloons of Bhutan”: Bringing Gross National Happiness from the Himalayas

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In his latest project, “Balloons of Bhutan,” artist, computer scientist and storyteller Jonathan Harris explores how the Kingdom of Bhutan measures quality of life — not through Gross National Product, but through Gross National Happiness. In 2007 Harris spent two weeks talking to 117 people — students, farmers, road workers, monks, even a firewood seller, ranging from ages eight to 81 — about how they would rate their happiness. He then asked each person what one thing they would wish for and wrote their wish on a balloon of his or her favorite color. These balloons were strung up on display in Dochula, a sacred mountain pass, alongside thousands of brightly colored Buddhist prayer flags.

“Balloons of Bhutan” is now online as an interactive story. Find out about this portrait of happiness >>

Watch Jonathan Harris talk about making sense of the emotional world of the web or unconventional story telling >>

Watch Chip Conley talk about how the Bhutanese create a “habitat for happiness” >>