On this day four years ago the United Nations announced that 20 March would henceforth be the International Day of Happiness, celebrated for the first time in 2013. By designating a commemorative day for human happiness, the institution representing nations worldwide has thus publicly acknowledged that the pursuit of “happiness” is universal, and the relative well-being of the world’s population an important universal goal. To help attain this goal, the UN calls on all nations to support the kind of economic growth that is “inclusive, equitable, and balanced”, promoting “sustainable development” and alleviating “poverty”, while contributing in general to “social and environmental well-being” (timeanddate). In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
At this time of grave injustices, devastating wars, mass displacement, grinding poverty and other manmade causes of suffering, the International Day of Happiness is a global chance to assert that peace, well-being and joy deserve primacy.
The suggestion for creating a Happiness Day is said to have come from the UN representatives of the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small Asian country on the eastern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, whose population, according to a British study in 2006, is considered to be the happiest in Asia. The study selected worldwide data based on ‘life satisfaction’ rather than momentary peaks of happy feelings. Consulting a variety of international data banks and feedbacks from over 80,000 people, Adrian White, researcher from the University of Leicester, concluded that the most significant factors for gauging life satisfaction were health, the level of poverty, and access to (basic) education. A more recent report, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), confirms that “happiness” is seen more and more as “a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy”. What decisively influenced well-being at individual and national levels, so the report further stated, was “the quality of the surrounding social norms and institutions”. More here.
An individual’s living conditions have certainly much to do with how s/he would define “happiness”, and definitions on these grounds will always vary greatly. Yet, there is no shortage of public advice:
Incidentally, March 20 is, as of 2013, also the World Oral Health Day, celebrating “healthy mouths and everything they allow us to do and enjoy” – an important aspect of a person’s physical well-being, conveyed, in turn, by a smile of happiness showing healthy teeth.
In the Northern Hemisphere, this day often marks the beginning of Spring – it so happens to be this year – as at about this time day and night are roughly of the same length (equinox). And Spring spells hope, a new beginning, the promise of a better (happier) life.
Source: Discovery News