March 20, 2014, marks the second annual UN Observance day of the International Day of Happiness established by UN resolution 66/281. The UN has acknowledged that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” stating that there is a “need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples”.
Original proponents of the International Day of Happiness
The International Day of Happiness stems from Bhutan, a country founded on Buddhist principles. The people and the government of Bhutan believe that there is a necessary balance between personal happiness and economic growth.
Indeed, in 1972, the fourth Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan, established the development policy of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) which has Four Pillars: good governance, sustainable socioeconomic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. He and his people believe and maintain that happiness can, and should, be accessible to all.
UN SG statement: Happiness continues to elude far too many
Last year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, stated that, “The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavors. People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature…yet, basic material wellbeing is still elusive for far too many living in extreme poverty. For many more, recurring socio-economic crises, violence and crime, environmental degradation and increasing threats of climate change are an ever-present threat”.
The United Nations and entertainer Pharrell Williams
The 7-time Grammy Award winner, Pharrell Williams has partnered with the UN this year to promote the International day of Happiness. In fact, ‘Pharrell’ has composed the world’s first 24-hours music video entitled, “Happy” (to watch the video, please click here). The song has been #1 on iTunes in over 30 countries around the world for over two weeks
Pharrell has encouraged Internet users to post dance videos celebrating happiness around the world, to social media sites such as Facebook, G+, TUMBLER and INSTAGRAM, with the tag #HAPPYDAY.
Pay it forward
Although an old concept, many around the world are unfamiliar with the term: “pay it forward”. Pay it forward refers to an act of kindness that is not returned to the original benefactor but given to someone new. It is all about being kind and brightening the day of a complete stranger.
This can include paying for a stranger’s meal and leaving a note that reads: “Pay it forward to someone else, Have a great day!” or leaving a large tip for a waiter/waitress that seems to be having a bad day
So look out for moment where you can display an act of kindness to another individual. You never know when you can change the life of another person by making them feel happier – even for an instance.
Questions for the Reader
- What makes you or those around you happy?
- What do you think we can all do to make people’s lives happier?
- Do you have any stories of an act of kindness you would like to share? Please feel free to post the examples in the comments section!