Residents of the US East Coast still recovering from last week’s record snowstorms will be happy to know that today is not just the first day of spring, but also the International Day of Happiness. First celebrated in 2013, this fun holiday was established by the United Nations (UN) to remind us that "the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal."
Setting aside a day to appreciate things that we take for granted — good health, family, and friends — was first suggested by residents of the tiny South Asian country of Bhutan. They also came up with the idea of establishing the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index in the 1970’s. The tiny nation, which has an annual per capita income of about $2,300, or 21 percent of the world’s average, believes that material wealth, measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Index, is not a meaningful measurement of human happiness. The UN advises people to observe the day in "an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities." So what can you do to celebrate besides cracking a big smile?
Help the UN achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, countries worldwide adopted 17 sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. According to the UN, we can all help achieve these aims with simple actions like turning off unnecessary lights, riding a bike or walking, and speaking up against social injustice and bullying. To educate young people everywhere and enlist their help in achieving the goals, the UN and the Smurfs team have also launched the “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign. Be sure to check it out.
Put together a playlist of uplifting songs
In 2015, the UN asked famous musicians like Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, David Guetta, and John Legend, as well as music fans, to submit their favorite happy songs. Six of the entries were used to create the “world’s happiest playlist,” and shared globally. Though the intergovernmental agency has not repeated the effort since, it’s a good idea to create an uplifting song playlist and share it with your friends and family.
Give or receive a (free) hug
While Washington D.C. has organized a formal event at the Dupont Circle Foundation to give or receive hugs, you don’t need to be in the nation’s capital to do this. Seek out a sibling, parent, or friend, and make their day by giving them a spontaneous hug.
Take the "Happy Acts" challenge
The global initiative is the brainchild of the "Live Happy" magazine. It encourages people to perform a random good deed and post it on the magazine's social media sites or tweet about it at #HappyActs. The actions can be as simple as sharing a fun photo or calling a grandparent.
Sometimes all it takes to make one happy is a little indulgence. So go ahead and grab a cup of cocoa or your favorite tub of ice cream and snuggle up with a blanket and good book!
Start a conversation
With the influx of gadgets, we tend to spend more time looking at our screens than the person in front of us. Tuck your computers or smartphones away for one evening and spend time reacquainting yourself with your parents or siblings. You might be pleasantly surprised at the joy it will bring them and you.
Pursue your dreams
Most of us have dreams that we never realize due to our fear of failing. Remember FAIL stands for "First Attempt In Learning." Make this the day when you take the first action towards something you have always dreamed of doing but been too scared to pursue.
Finally, don't forget to love yourself for who you are and be happy every single day! International Day of Happiness is a reminder that joy is all around us — you just have to reach out and grab it!
Happy Spring & International Day Of Happiness!
Resources: guardian.com,wikipedia.org, unicef.org