Celebrating International Day of Happiness: 20 March, 2024

— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.

March 20th is the International Day of Happiness.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognizes these goals:

  • Happiness is a fundamental human right.
  • Happiness is a universal goal and aspiration.

The UNGA called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”

It declared March 20 as The International Day of Happiness in 2012, inviting its member states, organizations, and us to actively promote happiness and well-being within their communities.

So, every year on March 20th, people around the globe celebrate happiness, health, and positive mental health for all. It’s a day to pause and reflect on what truly matters in our lives.

World Happiness Report

The 2024 World Happiness Report launched on Wednesday, 20 March 2024.

This annual report ranks countries based on happiness and well-being levels, considering factors such as income, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.

Finland has been the happiest country in the world for the 7th year in a row.

World Happiness Report Top 10 List-2024
WHR 2024 – Top 10 Happiest Countries

Why Do We Need An International Day of Happiness?

The International Day of Happiness is a reminder that happiness and well-being are fundamental human goals and universal aspirations. It calls on people, communities, and nations to focus on policies and initiatives that improve overall well-being.

The International Day of Happiness reminds us to —

  • relish the simple joys of life,
  • spend time on our relationships,
  • find our sense of purpose in life,
  • pursue inner peace and flourishing,
  • realize the importance of positive mental health.

This annual celebration is also a reminder that our world has a glaring happiness inequality. We could spend a few thoughts on people who live in circumstances rife with poverty, violence, oppression, and lack of basic rights and freedoms — all of which directly reduce happiness.

Simple Ways To Cultivate Happiness

Happiness is both a momentary experience (hedonia) as well as a sustained state of being (eudaimonia).

Happier people tend to live longer, have stronger immune systems, and can cope better with stress and life’s uncertainties. They also enjoy more fulfilling relationships, higher productivity, and greater career success.

Happiness is a skill. We can excel at this skill with evidence-based, deliberate actions and routines:

  1. Build positive relationships: Cultivate strong, supportive relationships through quality time, active listening, and being there for loved ones. Build friendships with people who don’t judge you unfairly.
  2. Practice daily gratitude: Consciously note and appreciate the positive aspects of your life (like The Three Good Things). Make it a point to express your thanks to others, especially those you have not sufficiently thanked.
  3. Be kind: Do some random acts of kindness, whether small gestures or larger acts. It has been shown to boost mood and create a sense of purpose.
  4. Find meaning in life: Find out what makes your life meaningful. To do so, list and analyze your values, passions, and what gives you a sense of fulfillment beyond just pleasure.
  5. Make time for joy: However busy your life may be, find time to indulge in joyful pursuits. Regularly dive into hobbies and experiences that make you feel good and energize you.
  6. Exercise: Exercise makes you happier. Positive psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar said that not exercising is like taking a depressant. Experts recommend exercising 5 days/week. Of course, it must come with the other basics of a happy life — a balanced diet, good sleep habits, and avoiding excess.
  7. Practice mindfulness: Try bringing present-moment awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and senses — a few minutes every day. Its benefits span across the rest of your everyday life and mood.
  8. Learn to handle stress: A secret — those who think they can cope with their stresses can actually handle their stresses better, and are happier. Another secret — let yourself enjoy the “relief” period after your stressful challenge has passed. To know your stress better, identify your stress triggers.
  9. Savor: Savoring is unhurriedly relishing life’s positive experiences, by being fully present in that moment, and immersing in the joy and appreciation you feel.
  10. Strengthen your strengths: You are better off being happy when you use your strengths, rather than fixing your weaknesses. If Perspective is your strength, find people who would love and benefit from your advice.

Start by including a few of these into your daily routine in a way that aligns with your values and life circumstances.

How do we measure happiness? World Happiness Report 2023
How Is happiness measured?

Self-Care And Happiness

  • Make self-compassion a habit, not an indulgence.
  • Build a support network that uplifts your authentic self.
  • Prioritize restful sleep over endless social media scrolling.
  • Set aside some solo time to reflect, decompress, and restore.
  • Nurture your spirit through purposeful activities that inspire you.
  • Set boundaries to protect your mental energy and emotional health.

Environment And Happiness

  • Reduce your environmental impact (carbon footprint) responsibly.
  • Adopt eco-friendly habits and sustainable choices that align with your values.
  • Protect natural resources and live sustainably to contribute to a better shared future.
  • Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. Submit to its grand wonders to foster a sense of awe.
  • Spend time outdoors in greenery. Research has shown that exposure to green spaces and natural environments positively affects our mental health.
International Day of happiness

Social Media And Happiness

Studies have shown that excessive social media use can contribute to anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

  • Don’t mindlessly scroll through feeds. Use social media with intention and purpose.
  • Follow accounts that inspire you rather than make you feel inadequate.
  • Take breaks from social media to nurture real-world relationships.
  • Engage in hobbies and activities that don’t involve screens.

Money and Happiness

The relationship between money and happiness is more complex than you think. That’s one reason why the UNGA asks nations to focus not just on economic growth.

5 facts about money and happiness:

  1. How you spend your money has a greater impact on your happiness than how much you earn.
  2. Spending money on experiences tends to bring more happiness than material possessions.
  3. The feeling that you have enough money matters more to happiness than being wealthy.
  4. Beyond a certain income level, more money has diminishing returns on happiness.
  5. People who prioritize wealth over other life domains tend to be less happy.

Final Words

The International Day of Happiness reminds us to prioritize happiness and well-being. Positive habits like gratitude, kindness, and altruism can improve our happiness and create a more joyful world.

Three shortcuts to happiness:

  1. Be Mindful (Ask, How am I feeling right now?)
  2. Be Kind (Ask, Who do I want to send love to?)
  3. Be Grateful (Ask, What am I thankful for?)

√ Also Read: 10 Takeaways From Seneca’s Happiness Wisdom (Stoic Philosophy)

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.