An international day dedicated to happiness may sound juvenile or gimmicky at first, but it is, in fact, an important step taken towards promoting happiness as a global human right. The annual United Nations (UN) event, commemorated on 20 March, first began in 2013. It came to fruition after being initiated by UN adviser, Jayme Illien, in July 2012 at the first ever UN conference that focused on the theme of ‘World Happiness’.
This year’s theme for the International Day of Happiness is ‘Build Back Happier’ marking the shared struggles and global recuperation from the COVID-19 pandemic. So, how should you, as an individual, celebrate the International Day of Happiness? Read on to know more.
The campaign arranged by non-profit organisation, Action for Happiness, highlights the significance of human happiness with an aim to promote social equality, mental-wellbeing and world peace, for not just this year but for generations to come.
Held at the TedX Teen conference in New York City, the debut celebration of the International Day of Happiness was set in motion by Ndaba Mandela and Chelsea Clinton in March 2013.
The event was brought to the spotlight by singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, after the first ever 2013 celebration featured a 24-hour international live streaming of the video of his super hit song “Happy”. Many notable world leaders and celebrities have previously attended this event to stress upon the importance of living a happier life.
All 193 United Nations member states mutually agreed to adopt solutions where happiness and optimisation of the human experience is granted the utmost priority.
Even science declares that the key to human happiness and well-being is tied to having strong social and emotional connections and deriving a sense of purpose in life, coupled with a positive attitude and spreading happiness in the community.
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that human beings with higher levels of happiness and optimism tend to enjoy a longer life span. It is also linked to lower risks of heart diseases and a greater chance of living past the age of 85.
The UN — by joining forces with the non-profit organisation Action for Happiness — wishes to raise awareness and highlight the advantages of helping people be happier and healthier, through the celebration of the International Day of Happiness in 2022 and beyond.
6 ways to take charge of your own happiness on this International Day of Happiness and after
Set a healthy routine for yourself and pen down realistic and measurable goals for each day. These goals can be subject to change depending on the various stages of your life. Try not to be vague with the goals.
For instance, don’t just say ‘become rich’ or ‘clean house’ or ‘lose weight’. Break down these broader goals into smaller tasks and establish specific targets like ‘scrub the kitchen’ or ‘clear out wardrobe’ instead.
Smaller, more attainable goals would set you up for success rather than failure. Setting such achievable goals and subsequently gaining confidence once you fulfil them is linked to overall optimism, self-image and happiness.
Meditate and practise gratitude
Practising gratitude or gratitude meditations helps you focus on the positive features of your life and fade out the ones you detest. Giving thanks to your friends, family members, pets or even inanimate objects in your life can help you stay grounded and develop a positive mindset.
There are several guided meditations or soothing podcasts that you can find on YouTube to kickstart your journey of practising gratitude and living in the present.
Immerse yourself in nature
Spending time in nature is the best way to melt away your anxieties and connect with your inner self. By simply observing the magnanimous trees which offer you shade no matter what time of the year it is or the gorgeously colourful birds collecting tiny sticks to build a nest for their babies or the gushing streams eager to quench the thirst of every living creature, you shall realise how much we have to be grateful for.
Nature is a silent teacher and perhaps going on a solitary hike in the woods will let you realise that you are not separate from the wild. Happiness lies in understanding the most fundamental and nurturing relationship a human being can have — the unbreakable, unconditional bond with mother nature.
Bond with your friends and family members
Since human beings are inherently social animals, our mental health, optimism and well being is heavily dependent on our social relationships and networks.
Spending quality time with your closest family members or friends by engaging in shared activities, outings and other types of interactions can release the mood-boosting neurotransmitter – serotonin, promote happiness and reduce stress and anxiety. This motivates you to be the best version of yourself.
Loneliness can be detrimental to your overall mental and physical health. This International Day of Happiness, you can join new groups and try out new bonding activities to strengthen relationships with people around you.
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, spread joy and practice inclusivity.
Engage in acts of kindness
Simply doing something nice for someone else, without harbouring an ulterior motive or expecting anything in return is an act of kindness. Participate in a charity or volunteer at your local animal shelter.
Pay an unexpected compliment, donate blood or bake cookies for the elderly. Random acts of kindness tend to spread happiness not just in the receiver, but the giver as well.
Known as the ‘helper’s high’, similar to exercise, altruism or practising kindness also releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones in us.
Your singular act of kindness can start a domino effect and create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and optimism in the society at large.
Learn a new skill
The evolutionary beings that we are, learning something new is perpetually linked to happiness, a sense of achievement, purpose and well being. When we become stagnant and stop learning, it is actually a disservice to the brain.
Learning keeps the brain active, makes it healthier and improves and upgrades our lives. Learning is to the brain what exercise is to the body.
Start expanding your horizons and remain engaged in fairly difficult but achievable activities to stimulate your brain. Learning about something you find interesting, exploring your hobbies and passions will give a sense of purpose and boost happiness and optimism.
You will begin doing your most rewarding work this way. Your wealth is not just how much money you have in your bank, it’s also how much knowledge you have accumulated and passed on in your life.
Hero and featured image: Courtesy Helena Lopes/Pexels