International Day of Happiness

20th March 2021 - 20th March 2021
March 20th is International Day of Happiness, so let’s find positive ways to look after ourselves and each other.

Need a reason to smile? Then you will be happy to know that March 20th is not just the first day of spring, but also International Day of Happiness.


What is it and where did it begin?

Established by The United Nations (UN) in 2012, it is meant to remind us that happiness is an essential human goal and right. However, in the modern world we live today, we sometimes confuse ourselves and quickly think that happiness can come from owning things and having a lot of money. But in reality, this isn’t the case! The idea to mark this day as International Day of Happiness was suggested by the tiny South Asian country of Bhutan. While the people living in this country have a much lower average income for the year (£1750) in comparison to those in the UK (£29,000), they consistently rank as among the happiest in the world. Bhutan is the only country in the world to use Gross National Happiness (a combination of money and how happy people are) to measure how well the country is doing, unlike most countries who just use Gross National Income (money people make).


How can people live a happier life?

There’s no shortcut to happiness or rules that will work for everyone. Everyone is unique and special, and that means that different things will bring happiness in to peoples lives. However, Action for Happiness has developed the 10 Keys to Happier Living based on a review of the latest research relating to happiness. The research suggests these Ten Keys have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being.


10 Keys to Happier Living

Giving – Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So, if you want to feel good, do good!

Relating – Relationships are the biggest part of happiness. People with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and help us feel better about ourselves. Connections with others (like at school, college or work) can help us feel like we fit in. So, making sure our close relationships are strong and creating new connections is essential for happiness.

Exercising – Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of deep levels of sadness. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!

Awareness – Learning to be more mindful and aware can boost our well-being in all areas of life. This could be by being more aware of our walk to school, how we eat and who we spend our time with. It helps us listen to our feelings and stops us from thinking about the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of what we are doing right now.

Trying Out – You might not believe it, but learning new things helps boost our mood. It can show us new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It lets us feel like we have achieved something, helps boost our self-confidence and resilience (the skill that makes us push through harder tasks). There are many ways to learn new things – not just through school. We can share a skill with friends, learn to sing, self-teach ourselves a new hobby, play a new sport and so much more.

Direction – Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging, but also achievable. If we try to attempt things that we can’t achieve, it can bring unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

Resilience – All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or sadness in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. It’s not always easy, but research has found that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

Emotions – Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, satisfaction, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping us to stay happy. So, although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – think about your glass being half full rather than half empty.

Acceptance – No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare ourselves to others. Thinking about our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being.

Meaning – People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress and worries. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religion, being part of a group or doing something that makes a difference in the world. The answer is different for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

So, on March 20th, use the 10 keys to focus on trying to put things into your life that boost your mood and put you on a path to happiness. Happy International Day of Happiness.