Friendly Planet Blog

An incurable optimist in Bhutan

Last week, Michael J. Fox’s "Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" aired on ABC. The special chronicled his decision to battle the effects of his Parkinson’s disease through optimism and hope. And it coincides with the release of his new book, "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist."

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Nick, one of our Friendly Planet Travel team members, saw the special, and wanted to share some thoughts with the entire Friendly Planet team. And I thought those points would be wonderful to share with you here on the blog.

During the program, Michael J. Fox travels throughout the country speaking with people from all walks of life, each choosing to live a life full of hope, even in the face of various forms of adversity (such as the small dairy farmers struggling through the economy).
His journey eventually takes him to the Kingdom of Bhutan, which lies between China and India, atop of the Himalayan Mountains. Bhutan is an extremely unique country, basically cut off from the rest of the world due to its remote location and desire to keep its culture and environment "unspoiled" by modernization and globalization.
While Bhutan does track its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it value its Gross National Happiness (GNH) even more. GNH measures the quality of one’s life in terms of happiness, as opposed to wealth and material goods.
The King of Bhutan proposed the Gross International Happiness Project (GIH), based on the insight that conventional development concepts such as GNP and Per Capita Income do not properly reflect the general well being of the inhabitants of a nation. With this project, Bhutan puts the well being of individuals on top of the national development agenda.
While in Bhutan, Michael J. Fox noted that the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease had greatly subsided, attributing it possibly to the altitude sickness medication he’d taken, or just being in Bhutan in general, which he referred to as "happiest place on Earth."
Parkinson’s affects the brain’s communication with the body, greatly impairing one’s motor skills. I watched as Fox walked throughout the rugged terrain of the country in a manner that showed no signs of his disease. It was quite amazing. Fox attended the Punakha Festival, one of the many festivals held in Bhutan throughout the year.

Bhutan allows only a small amount of travelers to enter the country each year, and Friendly Planet Travel is honored to be one of the few U.S. tour operators that offer Bhutan as a destination, with each departure including the opportunity to witness a different seasonal festival. Make sure you come back tomorrow for the full scoop on Friendly Planet Travel’s Beautiful Bhutan vacation.

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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