Arguably one of the only ‘days’ worth recognising, celebrating and taking part in.
Today is the second official International Day of Happiness.
On June 28th, 2012 it was announced that March 20th would mark a day that recognises “happiness as a fundamental human goal”, and equally important, to recognise;
the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and well-being of all peoples…
It’s a day to value the notion of happiness as a primal human desire and to reflect, educate and promote happiness as a valuable aspect of a flourishing society.
Maybe the most beautiful thing about this day is the inspiration behind it all: Bhutan.
Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it before either. Bhutan is a tiny country of only 700,000 people, 23% of which live under the poverty line. What’s so wonderful about them is they don’t prioritise material abundance or income levels as a marker for success. Instead, they measure GNH – Gross National Happiness – to gauge the prosperity of the nation. And they’ve been doing so for the past 40+ years.
Whilst Bhutan, like every country, still has enormous challenges, during the time Bhutan has been measuring GNH they’ve doubled life expectancy, enrolled almost 100% of its children in primary school and overhauled its infrastructure.
This is a radical notion for most governments, but it’s recently gotten a lot of attention especially since the release of the first World Happiness Report, which highlighted Bhutan as an example of conscious policy making.
And now many countries are recognising the need to measure peoples happiness in and of itself, as opposed to creating policies based on the assumption that monetary growth alone will result in a sustainable, tolerant, healthy and happy nation.
Although this concept has been a radical notion for governments, research shows it’s not for you and me. The line of partners who coordinate the International Day of Happiness found that 87% of citizens would rather live in a society with more happiness than more wealth.
We inherently know that more money will not lead to an increase in happiness, and we are also aware that happiness is our primary goal. Research has long confirmed this and today is a great way to both remind ourselves as well as to commit to working towards a change.
With so many ‘days’ being celebrated for some many, often mis-understood, reasons, i’ve come to think of this day as incredibly valuable. In fact, i’d go as far as to say it’s the second best ‘day’ in the entire calendar… after, of course, Working Naked Day, which should, in fact, be called; The Greatest Day In All Existence.
Although i’ll continue to write extensively on different aspects of these topics in the future, I decided to celebrate today by sharing something with you, from me and a few good friends.
Inspired by the coordinators of the day, I asked some friends to take a picture of something that makes them happy. I informed them it could be ‘absolutely anything on Earth’, as long as it was meaningful to them.
I did this in hope of visual displaying what we value in our lives. Things that actually contribute to our state of happiness on a day-to-day basis.
The biggest challenge I see in the search for a happier world is our reversed priorities. Unfortunately, as a population, we assume that those in the public eye are to be deemed as successful. So whatever is publicly linked to public figures is, automatically, deemed as a requirement for success.
Simply put; we have come to learn that whatever famous people do, have, say or think, and they lifestyle they lead, must be needed in order to become like them. and to become like them is to have succeeded at life, because – of course – they are famous. And fame = success. Finally, and most sadly, we’ve come to learn that public success = happiness.
Fame = happiness
Money = happiness
Ability to sing = happiness
Acting skills = happiness
Good looks = happiness
Status = happiness
Quantity of cars = happiness
Very expensive outfit = happiness
Minimal sleep = happiness
Very stressful and busy days = happiness
Ability to disagree with people at all times = happiness
Ability to display anger for prolonged periods = happiness
You get the idea.
But to reverse the equation, what would happen if we were asked: what is needed to be happy?
I’m confident you know the answer to this. It’s often very, very little.
The challenge I proposed to my friends was good fun. Aside from making my week, I learnt 3 surprisingly distinct things about them:
1. They are all, generally speaking, very happy people
2. They are weirdly good at taking photos?
3. They love desserts (this is not so much a surprise).
What you’ll notice is that the things that genuinely make us happy are the smallest of things; a stunning view, nature, simple experiences. All of which often require little, but impact us enormously.
Captions written by the photographer. Enjoy:
Header image via shutterstock/iko