A holiday called International Day of Happiness may sound a bit infantile to the uninitiated. Perhaps you’re imaging children singing “If you’re happy and you know it…” or people gleefully dancing under a smiling sun and rainbows. While you’re not entirely wrong — who doesn’t like a good sing-song session — the truth is there’s much more to this delightful day than just smiles and good vibes.
We celebrate International Day of Happiness thanks to the work done by the United Nations and its partner nonprofit group Action for Happiness, which is composed of people from 160 countries. The ultimate goal of the movement is to spread awareness that progress is not only about increasing bottom lines and encouraging economic growth, but well-being and human happiness as well. In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that made it a “fundamental human goal” to give happiness as much a priority as economic opportunity. Two years later, in 2013, all 193 member states of the UN celebrated the world’s first International Day of Happiness, and it has continued to grow since.
So as you listen to Pharrell on repeat, also take a minute this March 20 to consider what truly makes you happy, and how you can pursue it.
International Day of Happiness timeline
- February 15, 2017
The Smurfs join United Nations
The United Nations announces partnership with the Smurfs to help promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the 2017 International Day of Happiness.
- March 20, 2014
Pharrell releases "Happy" music video
In honor of the holiday, Pharrell releases the 24-hour music video for his song "Happy."
- March 20, 2013
International Day of Happiness is celebrated
The first International Day of Happiness was celebrated, launched by Ndaba Mandela and Chelsea Clinton at the TedXTeen conference in New York City.
- July 12, 2012
International Day of Happiness is established
Conceptualized by United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien, the holiday is established at the first ever UN conference on Happiness.
International Day of Happiness Activities
Make it a point to be social
Humans are social creatures. If you’ve been putting off organizing a get together with your friends, or have said “no” to going out a bit too much recently, try reversing this trend. Go out, laugh, have fun, don’t take your day so seriously, and you may find your stress levels drop and stay low from this one interaction. Smiling and laughing are among the best methods for relieving tension, and best of all, they’re free!
Stress and unhappiness due to work, the economic situation, fears over health and safety and myriad other factors can be a heavy weight around anyone’s neck. But by doing a little reading on well-being, mindfulness, and other ways to get in touch with what’s most important, you may start to grab a new outlook on life.
Make a list
One of the best ways to experience contentedness is also one of the simplest: Make a list. Specifically, jot down five things that truly make you happy. And think hard about this. Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix venture may be fun, but does it truly bring you happiness? Once you’ve written down five things, be sure to include at least one of them, in some form, in your everyday life. This way, the effects of International Day of Happiness can go on all year.
5 Delightful Facts About Happiness That Will Brighten Your Day
Get better soon
Those who are happier are less likely to develop the common cold.
Stop and smell the roses
Spring allergies aside, floral scents make you happier.
Not all smiles are the same
Scientists have classified 18 different types of smiles, from enjoyment to embarrassed.
Can we keep him?
Playing with or stroking a pet lowers stress and depression.
Next stop: Finland
According to the UN's 2018 report, Finland is currently the happiest country in the world.
Why We Love International Day of Happiness
Happiness isn’t a given
The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 300 million people are currently living with depression, while countless more are facing an undiagnosed lack of happiness in their lives. With mounting pressure to succeed in a fast-paced, globalized society, many aren’t taking their well-being seriously, which can have serious effects on an individual as well as their surroundings. It’s time to put happiness in the spotlight
Smiles are healthy
There have been several studies linking something as simple as smiling to improved mood, less stress, and greater amusement. What’s more, these reactions lead to more smiling, creating a positive cycle. So on International Day of Happiness, even if you have to fake a smile, the science says the positive effects you’ll soon be feeling are real.
Studies have found that improving the mood of others around you may be as simple as improving your own mood. By looking at what is shared most online and what “goes viral,” researchers have discovered that positive, happy and funny posts are shared far more than negative ones. In this exponential growth cycle, a single uplifting message in one country could raise the spirits of an entire population in another. All you have to do is spread the word!