Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Lessons From Bhutan

It’s amazing to think of the number of countries in this world that adhere to their roots.  They maintain practices for centuries and whether due to choice or circumstance modernize but don’t abandon what anchors them in their beliefs and customs.

There’s a book that was turned into a television show called A 1000 places to see, and one episode was a trip to Nepal and Bhutan.  So what’s so important about Bhutan and what lessons can we learn?  It seems that Bhutan’s culture is built around equity and empathy.  They understand that the well-being of the country is dependent on the well-being of the people.

They took the travelers to a “typical” Bhutanese home and it’s astounding to see the interior of the home.  They have a common room used for cooking, living, and sleeping and then they have a room dedicated to prayer.  They have a room dedicated to prayer making Buddhism an integral part of their lives, not an after thought or a “should”.  If you look at the research on spirituality and health there is a connection between well-being and spirituality.  If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering illness  how could spirituality impact your daily life.

I’m not recommending that all of us with a health challenge move to monasteries or sit on mountain tops, but what about mindfulness?  How would your healing journey be propelled forward if you had a connection to something bigger than you?  How much comfort would you receive having a connection to the Universe?

I guess I’m wondering how much spirituality plays into the quality of life for the Bhutanese people.  It is a culture where the government measures Gross Domestic Happiness.  I’m not kidding, they measure the degree that the people in the country are happy.  Don’t you think that impacts the health of the nation?  What if you measured your level of happiness, where do you think you’d fall on the happiness meter?  What could you do to increase your level of happiness?

Is newer always better?  Technology and scientific advancement has certainly made living with a chronic or life-altering illness easier.  Science has made dramatic changes not only in the longevity of those living with a health challenge, but has improved the quality of life for those of you facing those challenges.  However, we have basic needs to meet our emotional and spiritual needs and maybe practiced rooted in ancient traditions are just as potent for the mind and soul as any science and medicine can be for the body.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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