In 2012, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness. This means that today we are lucky enough to be witness to the First United Nations International Day of Happiness.
The day aims “to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world.” It recognises happiness as a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to adopt public policies that promote the wellbeing of all its peoples. Focussing on the happiness of all citizens is really a simple way of promoting inclusive, equitable and balanced communities, where no groups are disadvantaged at the expense of others, and where each person has an equal right to a happy and prosperous life.
International Day of Happiness originated in Bhutan, the Himalayan Kingdom said to have some of the happiest and most content citizens in the world. Bhutan has led the way in focusing on societal prosperity, by developing a national performance measure called the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index. This measure rejects the more common approach of using economic and material wealth alone as an indicator of development. Instead, the GNH Index promotes a more holistic outlook which takes into account both material and spiritual well-being.
To promote happiness as an international goal, we can each do our part in a very real way. Unlike with many other UN commemorations, which often appear so big and daunting that it feels like we as individuals cannot really do much about it, International Day of Happiness is dead simple – if you can do something, however small, to make one other person happy, you’ve already made a huge contribution. Be kind, show appreciation, and importantly, cheer the happy heroes – those people who bring happiness to others in their communities. If you know someone out there doing good and making people happy, share it with the world – you may be amazed how empowering simple acknowledgement and recognition can be.
And remember that making the world a happier place begins with focusing on your own happiness. To quote the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
That’s a pretty big statement, and definitely something we can adopt as a fundamental goal in life.
Happy International Day of Happiness, everybody!