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.
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.
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.
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