Saturday, March 16, 2024

United Nations International Day of Happiness: March 20th

"Happiness" is a concept that has popped up a lot lately. Most recently when my daughter was on an academic spring break trip in Spain, and mentioned that everyone, everywhere she visited, seemed happier than we do here in America. 

With school, we are currently just starting our spring break, which of course is the epitome of happiness for teachers and students alike. Moreover, after break, we have a faculty/staff book club starting with Shawn Achor's book The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life. Achor also has a TED Talk on the subject.

About a month ago, I was gifted tickets to see Dr. Laurie Santos at the Baltimore Speaker Series. Santos is a psychologist and professor at Yale, and her "Psychology and the Good Life" course has been Yale's most popular course in 300 years. It currently too is a free Coursera program of 10 modules, which starts March 16th. She also is the creator of the Happiness Lab podcast.

Or maybe it's just the cusp of spring, longer days, blooming flowers, and all of that, which makes me happy too. 

Thinking too about happiness led to me to think about mental health, and how we as an American society are facing a mental health crisis of epic proportions and all-time highs. The post pandemic epidemic.

As I was pondering all of that, I came to find out that here, during my school spring break, the United Nations' International Day of Happiness falls right smack dab in the middle of it--on March 20th annually. First celebrated in 2013, the UN General Assembly aimed in the day to honor and recognize “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”  It ties to the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals and views happiness and well-being as a basic human right. Here is the video introduction including Pharrell William (creator of the song "Happy" speaking about happiness its global impact.

Additionally, the World Happiness Report for 2024 is due out at noon (EST) on UN's International Day of Happiness. In it, it will reveal general overviews of the trends as well as a list in order of the happiest countries in the world. Last year's 2023 report placed Finland at #1 for the 6th year in a row, based on these key features: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption. This January 2023 article from CNBC also proposes that countries like Finland place a stronger emphasis on the following than we do in the United States: more vacation time for employees, a stronger sense of community, lack of a comparison view of each other, and a tie to nature are key features also at play. Might be something there!

For some ideas on. how to bring a little more happiness into your life, check out the website International Day of Happiness.

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