March 20 has been celebrated as the International Day of Happiness following its proclamation, in 2013, by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.
Bhutan gave us the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a new approach to development which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment. The Bhutanese government believes that every citizen’s pursuit of happiness is its main goal. This goal is actually enshrined in article 9 of the country’s constitution.
Another country that joined the race for happiness is Venezuela who has reportedly created a Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness in 2013.
In 2016 the UAE announced a National Happiness and Positivity Programme which consists of five pillars: the science of happiness and positivity, mindfulness, leading a happy team, happiness and policies in government work, and measuring happiness. It appointed a Minister of State for Happiness and also a number of Happiness Officers who would be trained at the University of California, Berkeley and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre of the University of Oxford, two of several international partners enlisted by the UAE government to ensure the success of its programme.
Closer to home, Madhya Pradesh is reported to be the first and only state in India to have created a department of happiness to boost the wellbeing of its citizens, and appointed a Minister for Happiness.
Time was, not all that long ago, when happiness was not measured by data and official policies. Happiness was not analysed and planned; it was not pursued under any DIY guidelines or international training programmes.
Rather happiness was what you felt (and not all the time), what you shared with your family and friends—not through ‘events’ and slogans, but over a family meal; exchanged lunch boxes in the school recess; through letters and cards, and other simple joys of life. The same was done when one was feeling sad, or tense or confused. It was a time before emoticons summed up the way we felt.
The 2018 theme for International Day of Happiness is Home. In keeping with the times, sharing an online recipe for making a happy day!
Smile, share, eat healthily, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend some time with friends and family, spend some time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable, say “all the more” instead of “nonetheless” – you get it. Do what makes you happy. https://happinessday.org/
In the meanwhile–from the global to the local–it had been reported that the minister for Happiness in Madhya Pradesh, whose arrest had been ordered by the court on charges of murder, had gone missing. Last heard of, the police were in hot pursuit of Shri Happiness!