Did you know? March 20 is the International Day of Happiness! Introduced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2012, this day showcases an abstract concept whose definition can sometimes be hard to pinpoint. The search for happiness can take many different forms and is still a very current subject – perhaps now more than ever.
Upon founding this day, the UN General Secretary declared that “Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.” And it just so happens that Bhutan, a country located in the Himalayas and nicknamed the “Kingdom of Happiness,” has declared since the early 1970s that GNH (Gross National Happiness) is a more representative index of actual quality of life than GNP (Gross National Product).
Happiness with a capital H
We can all try to describe what happiness means to us. But what would our bodies and minds say? A number of scientific studies carried out by researchers at Kyoto University in 2015 proved that a certain part of the brain was more developed in happy people. The find was a breakthrough! From a semantic and philosophical point of view, happiness is generally defined as “a state of total satisfaction.” Despite being clear, this definition is however very subjective. Perhaps the answer lies in Finland? After all, the/Finnish were ranked first in the 2018 World Happiness Report, a global study on happiness commissioned every year by the UN.
In the meantime, the thing that matters most is our own personal concept of happiness. If we were all happy, then the world would be a much happier place! With this in mind, here are a few ideas – in no particular order – about happiness, that some of us may relate to…
# Contagious happiness
Laughing and smiling as often as possible is already a good way to be happier! And seeing someone happy, for a matter of minutes or a handful of hours, can transform our day and fill us with positive thoughts. Smile!
# Simple happiness
What if being happy meant making more time for ourselves? We are often guilty of racing against the clock, jam-packing our days, and doing everything too fast. But let’s try instead to live in the moment, calmly, and ensure we indulge in several little breaks away from the hustle and bustle every day, to relax and disconnect while reconnecting with ourselves.
# Happy together
Being with people we love changes everything. Even the most complicated situations suddenly seem so simple. Being together means being better, stronger, and happier.
# Happy stomachs
Enjoying a mouth-watering meal, a delicious dessert, or a delectable drink remains high on the list of our favorite comforts. We should try to treat ourselves to them more often, and in good company for added effect!
# Harmonious happiness
Gandhi once said that “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Food for thought… Perhaps if we stop saying things that we won’t do, it might help us live in harmony with ourselves and with others? It’s certainly worth a try!
# Happiness of place
Or out of place, for the more adventurous, but certainly somewhere you enjoy being. Picturing a place we love enables us to channel our emotions and relax. And if we can actually go and spend a few hours there, that works even better! This special place is often close by, meaning that happiness is within reach.
To round off this consideration of contentedness, here is an extract from a poem by French poet Joachim du Bellay. Some of us may (vaguely!) remember studying it in French class at school. Above all, it should remind us all of life’s priceless little pleasures, with a tingly blend of nostalgia for wherever we call home.
Happy he, like Ulysses… Joachim du Bellay
Happy he, like Ulysses,
who’s done his roaming
or he who took the Golden Fleece,
then in the gloaming
comes back home,
a wiser man
to live with his own
his remaining span.