The decision to celebrate “International Day of Happiness” was made on 28th June 2012, by the United Nations General Assembly and its 193 member states. The proposal was made by Jayme Illien, United Nations special advisor.
Announcement regarding the inclusion of “International Day of Happiness” in the UN’s calendar of events was made in the UN’s 66th session on 17th September 2012 by then Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.
The first “International Day of Happiness” was observed on 20th March 2013, since then it’s being celebrated annually by 193 member states, 11 territories, and 2 observer states.
International Day of Happiness 2019
The International Day of Happiness 2019 was celebrated on 20th March 2019.
International Day of Happiness 2019 theme was – ‘Happier Together’
It was also celebrated with the central theme – “Share Happiness and be a part of Something Amazing”.
The aim of this year’s International Day of Happiness was to spread happiness in everyone’s life. Various organizations and NGOs organized events to celebrate the occasion by urging people to share how they spread happiness.
OFM, the famous FM radio in South Africa celebrated the day by playing music with a happier nature and positive nods. It also broadcasted programs on the topic “The secret to a long and happy life”. It also organized various competitions and the winners were awarded prizes.
United Nations launched a “Ten Steps to Global Happiness” challenge campaign and called upon the people to celebrate the day and take 10 steps to challenge to spread happiness in the world.
The proposal for the celebration of “International Day of Happiness” was first made by UN’s special advisor Jayme Illien, who was also a philanthropist and a statesman. He first proposed the concept to a team of senior United Nations officials in 2011.
Later Jayme Illien garnered the support of 193 UN member states and then Secretary-General of the United Nations – Ban Ki-moon.
Further, Jayme Illien formulated the UN’s Resolution 66/281 on 28th June 2012, which was also adopted by the General Assembly on the same date. The Resolution proclaimed 20th March as the “International Day of Happiness” and called upon member states, civil society, government organizations and individuals to celebrate March 20th as “International Day of Happiness”. A request to Secretary-General of the UN was also made to further the resolution to the member states and appropriate parties.
First UN Meeting on Happiness
The United Nations hosted the first high profile meeting on happiness and well being on 2nd April 2012. The meeting was attended by heads of state, senior delegates, and ministers from over thirty countries and by intergovernmental organizations.
United Nations then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, proposed to achieve the parity between social, environmental and economic well being as the three are pillars of Sustainable Development, together defining gross global happiness.
World’s Pursuit of Happiness
Many leaders and social thinkers and activities across the world have been stressing on ‘happiness’ for decades.
The need for happiness was first recognized by Bhutan’s King – Jigme Singye Wangchuk in 1972. He was also the first to introduce Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy.
International Institute of Management introduced second-generation GNH in 2005 along with the first global survey of Gross National Happiness.
In 2007 the Illien foundation launched an initiative to poverty removal and promoting sustainable development to human happiness.
Founder “Jayme Illien’s” Early Life
Jayme Illien was found abandoned as an infant on a roadside in the Indian town of Calcutta. He was taken to the International Mission of Hope Orphanage, run by Mother Teresa.
He was later adopted by a single American woman – Anna Belle Illien who was also the founder of Illien Adoption International; an adoption agency based in Atlanta, GA and working to support, displaced, poor and refugee families and children.
From an early age, Jayme had hands-on exposure to the issues like refugees, poverty, and problems faced by the orphan children, as he roamed throughout the world with his mother.
He professed the rights of children from a very early age and became vocal about them and the solutions. He felt a responsibility towards the deprived children who lose their families to poverty, war and other related factors. He considers himself to be one of them.
Jayme Illien worked as a diplomat of Illien adoptions in the United States Department of State, working on issues like immigration, child trafficking, adoption and issues of human rights.
Why 20th March Was Chosen for Celebrating “International Day of Happiness”?
Jayme Illien proposed March 20th March as the date for “International Day of Happiness”, considering the importance of March Equinox, which falls on the same date annually. Jayme Illien was of the opinion that Equinox is a phenomenon felt by all of humankind and is an event when Sun lies exactly above the earth.
What is the Aim of “International Day of Happiness”?
We all want to be happy and every pursuit has happiness at its core. Whatever we do – study, work, play, make plans and read, etc, we do it all to ultimately achieve happiness.
The world has developed drastically in past decades but unfortunately, we haven’t progressed much on happiness. Today we have got access to the best things in life from fancy gadgets to comfort accessories, but we are not that much happy and only a few countries today reach the benchmark of Global Happiness Index.
The “International Day of Happiness” recognizes happiness as the basic human goal and calls upon the government and associated agencies to make policies towards improving peoples’ general well being.
A day dedicated to happiness the United Nations seek to fetch the attention of the international community on the fact that sustainable development will only be achieved if people are happy. The UN also acknowledges the fact that social, environmental and economic well being is mandatory for global happiness.
How Is “International Day of Happiness” Celebrated?
There is no specific location for the celebrations of “International Day of Happiness” and it is celebrated globally by governments, non-government agencies, and members of civil society and also by people holding high offices.
Persons from every section of society irrespective of their profession or financial status take part in the celebrations of “International Day of Happiness”. Various events are organized to encourage people to be happy and also to make them happy.
Painting and laughing competitions are organized especially in schools and colleges. Children are asked to draw a poster for the “International Day of Happiness”; depicting happiness in whatever way they like.
Events are organized to help people achieve their goals or do things that make them happy. People, who get happy by involving in a specific activity, are given access to it.
Many celebrities and public figures also celebrate the day with joy and festival fervor. The first commemoration of “International Day of Happiness” 2013 in New York was witnessed by Ndaba Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s grandson), Chelsea Clinton (daughter of former US President Bill Clinton) and Hillary Clinton (US Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate).
Government and non-government agencies work towards the eradication of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and various other factors that obstructs the happiness of a person or the Happiness Index of a nation.
To meet the goals of Sustainable Development it is imperative to improve the Happiness Index of the world.
Activities for the “International Day of Happiness”
1) Do What Ever Makes You Happy
Happiness doesn’t have a defined criterion and it differs from person to person. Someone might be happy playing a football match while others might be happy by bicycling or visiting a nearby forest or a close friend. Decide what makes you happy and do it right away. No matter how small the activity is, it’s worth doing as long as it makes you happy.
2) Spread Happiness
Make others happy too. A simple gesture like a smile or a warm handshake might be enough to make a sad person happy. The essence of the day is to be happy and to spread happiness in whatever way you like and in whatever way it is possible. Extend your helping hand to those in need and show your concern. It is a very simple gesture but definitely will leave an impact on the other, making him happy.
3) Organize Events
Organize an event in your community to make people happy by addressing their needs or just through plays, competitions, comedy shows, etc. Anything that could make a person happy can be chosen as an activity for the event. Raise awareness of the people about happiness and how important is it to Achieve Goals of Sustainable Development.
4) Give Cards
Give Cards to people to show your concern, express appreciation, love and respect to those you know or care about. Giving cards is a simple gesture but sure will leave the other person happy, boosting his self-esteem and improving confidence. You can buy a card from the nearest store or could make your own card, but don’t forget to write words of appreciation, love, and respect.
5) Interview Your Friends and Family
Get into the role of a reporter and interview your family and friends. Ask them what makes them happy and also what makes them angry. Try to make them happy based on the information they provide. Also, discuss the things that make them unhappy and give your suggestions. Tell them how to get involved in the things which make them happy, refraining from unhappy things or activities.
6) Don’t Get Angry
Anger eats happiness. Anger not only removes your happiness but also the happiness of those around you. Teach yourself to control your anger and be resilient towards the things that make you angry. While angry, take up your favorite activities like- cycling, reading, jogging, playing, painting, etc. Do whatever you like and your anger will slowly disappear. Don’t get angry at least on a day dedicated to happiness.
7) Keep Looking
On the day of “International Day of Happiness” keep looking for the activities that will make you happy. Explore new things, activities, games, shows, etc – anything that could make you happy. You might love reading the book which you didn’t even care to look at. Try it! Who knows that after reading the same old book you will emerge as a happy and content person.
8) Sleep Well
Sleep is a natural stress buster and a pain reliever. A short sleep will make you look pale, grumpy and disoriented. A good sleep, on the other hand, will make you confident and happy. You can use the occasion of “International Day of Happiness” to sleep well and be happy.
Themes of International Day of Happiness
- International Day of Happiness Theme 2019 – “Share Happiness and be Part of Something Amazing” and “Happier Together”.
- International Day of Happiness Theme 2018 – “Share Happiness”.
- International Day of Happiness Theme 2017 –“10 Steps to Happiness”.
- International Day of Happiness Theme 2016 – “Angry Birds Happy Planet”.
- International Day of Happiness Theme 2015 – “Focus on Your Connection with Others”.