Day of Happiness

Today is the first United Nations International Happiness Day. The 193 member countries have adopted a resolution to prioritize happiness, and they want your contribution. Today is a good day to start.

dayofhappinessThe UN sees a global attitude change: “People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy at all costs.” Their goal couldn’t be nobler: Bringing happiness to others and creating a happier society. What’s great about this goal is that everyone can relate to it personally, everyone can help the UN achieve it, and the grass root level is important.

This is a Kinder egg moment and a win-win situation: By bringing happiness to others, you will feel better yourself and most likely inspire others to do the same. Three in one.

World happiness

The first ever World Happiness Report from the Earth Institute at Columbia University shows that the top three happiest countries in the world are way up north: Denmark, Finland and Norway. Luxembourg is number 16 on the list. The least happy countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hardly surprising, but the UN points out that it’s not just about wealth. Political freedom, social networks and absence of corruption are together more important than income, and physical and mental health, trust, support and stability are crucial factors as well. Happiness is about absence of misery.

Some of the results from the report may serve as important reminders in our everyday lives and in the global happiness effort. Like the fact that unemployment is a major source of unhappiness and that having job security and good colleagues is more important than your pay. Or that mental health affects happiness more than anything in any country. However, the report tells us that only about 25% of mentally ill people get treatment in advanced countries, and fewer in poor countries.

The last 30 years, the world has become a little happier. Only a little though, so let’s resolve with the UN to change that for the next 30 years. You can even sign the Action for Happiness pledge here. Behaving well makes people happier, it’s there in black and white in the report. A part of that is giving, and we have all felt how giving makes us feel better ourselves, well unless we’re Scrooge McDuck.

A universal goal starting with you

So giving could be a good place to start, and fairly easy too. Give away things you don’t need anymore, for example to the newly started Givingatlux project. Buy a stranger a coffee, give somebody a rose or a compliment. Use the possibilities of the Internet to spread happiness, like the Harlem Shake.

oslopaperbirdsIn Norway’s capital city Oslo, people have helped each other through a long winter by putting knitted hearts on lamp posts along the main streets and paper birds in trees around the city. In a city like New York, you needn’t look lost for more than 30 seconds and somebody will ask you if you need help, maybe even walk you a part of your way. It doesn’t take much.


This is the stated aim of the UN International Day of Happiness: “To promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world.”

Enough words, let’s move on to action! Go make somebody’s day a bit happier!


By Unni Holtedahl, March 2013


  1. Ehhhh – if Denmark, Finland and Norway are the worlds top three happiest countries – we are in deep trouble. :-I


  2. Tom Ford says:

    Hi Unni

    In the UK there has been a lot of discussion on this issue and an organisation called Action for Happiness was started a few years ago: which provides some great tips for how to be happy. It’s a great website of resources on this topic. Perhaps a Luxembourg chapter should be formed…!

    On the face of it, living in a wealthy place like Luxembourg you would think we should all be happy, but the fact is money certainly isn’t everything and sometimes we get things out of order/proportion and loose sight of the important things in life – like family, friendships and as you say just thinking about those around us and being kind and civil to each other… I certainly struggle with keeping a balance, making sure work is not the be all and end all of life…



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