Happiness Goes Global -- How Will You Celebrate International Day of Happiness?

How many times a year do you get an excuse to celebrate happiness? Why not right now? The UN has declared March 20, 2013 to be the first International Day of Happiness.
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Outdoor portrait of excited young adult businessman standing in front of airplane and talking on a mobile phone.
Outdoor portrait of excited young adult businessman standing in front of airplane and talking on a mobile phone.

How many times a year do you get an excuse to celebrate happiness? Why not right now? The UN has declared March 20, 2013 to be the first International Day of Happiness. Why happiness now? More and more, people are asking what is the definition of human "progress," and recognizing that it must include happiness and well-being, not just bottom line economic growth. The good news is that it that you don't need to go searching for the secret happiness sauce -- you already have everything you need to ignite happiness within yourself and influence those around you. Exercise your happiness; this is your day!

International Day of Happiness gained momentum after the Hon. Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, the country that pioneered the concept of Gross National Happiness, inspired the Assembly to introduce a UN Resolution to consider the greater happiness of a country's citizens. In an unforgettable conversation we shared at the Rio+ Conference, he spoke of his goal of countries coming together in a new vision for global happiness, which starts with each individual. Inspired by Bhutan's call to action, a UN conference on happiness and well-being was held, leading to 193 countries to unanimously sanction the equinox day of March 20 as the first International Day of Happiness. Now the world is on board and you can be too!

How to Get Involved?
While nations are gradually introducing happiness and well-being as an important part of sustainable development, it's exciting to see that individual citizens are mobilizing to take their happiness into their own hands too. Project Happiness, which teaches the skills for greater well-being to students around the world, is working with Action for Happiness, an organization based in the UK, that is bringing together a network of like-minded organizations and people to expand happiness everywhere. One of the quickest ways to get involved is to celebrate acts of generosity, kindness, enthusiasm and connection -- focused on bringing happiness to others. It's easier than one may think to ACT:

A: Affirm the pledge -- make a personal pledge to create more happiness in the world
C: Cheer Happy Heroes -- celebrate the people who bring happiness to you and others
T: Take part -- do something to mark the day and spread some happiness
Wherever you are in the world you can take part on the International Day of Happiness by:
Cheering your Happy Heroes or using the #happyheroes hashtag on Twitter
• Sharing what you're doing on the day using Cheers or the #happyday hashtag on Twitter.

Because your sense of well-being influences others more than you know, it makes sense that as you increase your happiness, it positively affects those around you. Why not make International Happiness Day the start of a year where you commit to well-being, positivity and gratitude? It will uplift your outlook and ripple out to those you care about too. You know about the benefits of exercise, sleep and food that give you energy. Here are a few other ideas to get started. The cost is nothing but your desire, and the pay offs are enormous:

5 Ways to Activate Your Happiness:

1. Kindness Counts: Research shows that people who did five acts of kindness per week over six weeks experienced increased happiness and other positive consequences. You don't have to practice this every day to discover that being kind to others makes you happier. When has this shown up for you?

2. Time for Happiness: Rather than linking money and happiness, we are better off examining the relationship between time and happiness in our lives. We can be happier by following these time-spending happiness rules: "1) spend time with the right people; 2) spend time on the right activities; 3) be aware that happiness changes over time." What times in your life have brought you unforgettable happiness?

3. Feel the Flow: When hours feel like minutes and you are totally absorbed in what you are doing, you are in a "flow" state. Athletes call it being "in the zone." Research shows that flow state happens when you have the right ratio of challenge to skill level, i.e., when you're challenged just enough to engage your skill set at the appropriate level. What makes you feel that way?

4. Mindset Matters: When something bad happens you can either choose to put yourself down and succumb to the "inner critic" or look into what there is to learn from the situation. If a presentation didn't go well, you can either say: "I'm always bad at this type of thing" (Dr. Carol Dweck calls this the fixed mindset) or: "It happens; next time I'll prepare and practice more," (the growth mindset). Which perspective will you choose?

5. Count Your Blessings: Practicing gratitude and visualizing your best positive self help increase and sustain positive emotion. Those making daily gratitude lists (even 1-3 things that you are grateful for) reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Worth a shot?

Make International Day of Happiness your personal day to celebrate the happiness already in your life, expand on that and share it with others. Think of it as fuel for a better world. Research shows that happiness is contagious, and even small acts create big ripples of change. You are the change you've been waiting for.

What advice would you give someone who longs for a happier world?

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