March 20 is the International Day of Happiness, but what exactly is it? And can it really help to improve your levels of well-being? Let's answer those questions...


The International Day of Happiness is an annual event organised by the United Nations to promote the idea that feeling happy is a global human right. supports and organises the day, with support from other groups. Many of the world's leading religions and philosophies promote positive emotions as vital for the well-being of mankind. However, the idea of having a dedicated day of observance for the concept is relatively new.


International Day of Happiness: the history

The first International Day of Happiness was held on 20 March, 2013, following several years of campaigning by Jayme Illien, a United Nations adviser. After growing up in one of Mother Theresa's Kolkata orphanages, an American family adopted Jayme Illien. He was keen to end global inequality. All member states of the UN are encouraged to participate in the event, to raise awareness of the importance of positive emotion for humanity and to help others to find ways to create happiness.

Come together: the International Day of Happiness


The last three international events had attendees including world leaders and celebrities. Pharrell Williams, the singer-songwriter, has been heavily involved with the event as a spokesman and the composer of the worldwide hit 'Happy.' In fact, an innovative part of the 2013 celebrations was the first ever 24-hour global live streaming video of this very song. Other celebrities who have attended and supported the event include Chelsea Clinton, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

During previous celebrations, numerous free events have taken place across the world, such as dances, community drop-in events and conferences. Community workshops, walks and social media are all tried-and-true ways of spreading the message about how everyone deserves to feel happy.

Some years have focused on particular areas essential for well-being. For example, 2015 concentrated on the importance of relationships. While in 2014, people shared images of what made them feel happy. The event aims to reduce global inequality, end poverty and protect the planet for future generations. Many projects coincide with the main day itself. The organisers for 2017 have taken submissions for related free events across the world for today.


Studying happiness

The first history of happiness studies began over 2,500 years ago when great philosophers such as Confucius, Socrates, Aristotle and Buddha, and many others devoted their lives to the pursuit of this topic, influencing the lives of countless millions to the present day.

Well red and happy: take a leaf out of her book!


Today, positive psychology or the science of happiness is the study of what exactly make happy people happy. There has recently been an explosion of interest in this field. The free course, 'Science of Happiness' is one of the most popular courses since its inception in 2014. Students report that the information and materials provided have been very useful for improving wellness levels.


The benefits of happiness

Although the history of happiness studies is not a new concept, it's only in recent years that psychologists have begun to understand the importance and far-reaching implications of positive emotions. Scientists conclude that the key to human wellness is strong social ties and a sense of purpose. In other words, involvement in things that are for the 'greater good' of humanity.

Others believe that having a positive mindset is responsible for as much as 90 per cent of our feelings of well-being. These might include a fulfilling career where helping others is paramount, voluntary work to improve the community, or participation in a religion that promotes communal activities such as regular group worship. The science of happiness continues to be, perhaps, the most valuable area of studies. Concentrating as it does on the question of how to create happiness.

Give to get: volunteering leads to joy


People who are happy tend to live longer and have fewer health problems. Happier people are less likely to have high blood pressure and heart issues. One thing remains clear – we still have a lot to learn about this area of study and the myriad benefits of a life well-lived. Hopefully the International Day of Happiness can raise even more awareness of this. 

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Written by Guest Author

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