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International Happiness Day

In a powerful way, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon states his view on Happiness. He states, “The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavours.”. In addition, he adds how we can attain happiness, for selves and others. He states, “By contributing to common good, we ourselves are enriched.”

The International Happiness Day, 20th march yearly, was a day created to mobilize the Global Happiness Movement. Maybe not created, but selected from the many possible dates, by the United Nations through the adoption of the UN Resolution 66/281 in order to achieve two goals:

  • Establishment of a set of principles; principles aimed at addressing the complex, interrelated challenges faced by humankind in the ultimate quest to achieve happiness.
  • Promotion, Preservationa dn the Celebration of the principles outlined in UN Resolutions 65/309 and 66/281, especially that happiness is a universal human right and goal.

IHD: Background and Foundation

The International Day of Happiness was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement. His idea was that the pursuit of happiness must be seen as a human right and a “fundamental human goal.” Pharell Williams echoed this stance by saying, “Happiness is your birthright.” Jayme Illien chose March 20 for its significance as the March equinox, a universal phenomenon felt simultaneously by all of humankind, and which occurs the moment when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk. The proposal was in 2012 and the first ever international day of happiness was celebrated on March 20, 2013. Since then, the International Day of Happiness is celebrated in 193 UN Member states, 2 observer states, and 11 territories.

IHD: What is it all about?

 The International Happiness Day is all about what it says; Happiness! Being happy the best way one can and by extension, causing someone to be happy in whatever way it can be achieved. Smile, share, eat healthily, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend some time with friends and family, spend some time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable, say “all the more” instead of “nonetheless” – you get it. Do what makes you happy. Be happy and contagiously so!

In other words, the days seeks to promote happiness as a fundamental human right and goal, which can be achieved through the preservation of the values and principles of the UN happiness resolutions, including happiness as a human right and goal, “Gross Global Happiness”, and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. International Day of Happiness therefore, co-opts all Member States, international and regional organizations of the United Nations system, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to engage in the observance of the Day of Happiness, in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities. It’s a day to be happy.

This is amplified by the thrust of the United Nations celebration of the day.  The day is regarded as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. To buttress on this thrust, the UN in 2015, launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness. Thus, Happiness is a key factor towards a holistic approach to development.

It is in the light of the above that the thrust of the United Nations as regards the International Happiness Day is stated as follows:

The General Assembly, … Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, … Recognizing also the 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, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities …

— United Nations General Assembly, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 28 June 2012

IHD 2019: #TenBillionHappy

The International Day of Happiness seeks to transcend individual spaces to achieving multinational cohesions; uniting all the happy people of all nationalities and religions under the umbrella of the non-religious moral code outlined in The Way to Happiness booklet, which includes 21 precepts. Some of the precepts outlined in the book includes; ‘take care of yourself’, ‘love and help children’, ‘set a good example’, ‘do not harm a person of good will’, ‘safeguard and improve your environment’, ‘try to treat others as you would want them to treat you’ and many others that will help you live a happy life.

This issue of Happiness, on personal and global levels is serious business. It is aptly put by Mr. Ban Ki moon, “Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations,” and called upon all human beings to “dedicate our efforts to filling our world with happiness.” This means, every human life on the planet has right to happiness, as a fundamental human right and therefore, governments can and must be held accountable for securing that happiness.

This year’s theme, #TenBillionHappy, has the vision of and for the year 2050 in sight. With the estimated and projected world population then at 10 Billion people, the goal is to inspire, develop, and promote initiatives with global citizens, governments, nonprofits, NGOs, and the private sector, to secure Happiness for All by 2050.


Day of Happiness


Featured image source: Wikipedia

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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