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International Happiness Day

Today is International Happiness Day which was established in 2013 to expand what we recognise as essential for a good human life. The concept is that every human should be in a position where poverty is not an obstacle to their well-being and ultimately the experience of being happy.

It's important to remember that happiness is an emotion and you may be surprised to know that we humans are complex which means we do have more than one emotion. It follows that happiness is temporary and today is not about constant happiness but the opportunity to experience this temporary feeling amongst a general state of well-being.

International Happiness Day goes beyond celebrating the pure emotion which is the result of something good happening. Today we're asked to look at all the things we need to do to achieve those happy feelings. And there is a lot to do. On a macro level, today is about ending poverty, reducing inequality and protecting our planet.

A point to note is that you don't need to be living in the top 1% with your private jet to be happy. Happiness is triggered by numerous things, especially immaterial aspects. More often than not we’re made happy by small things because it’s not every day we get married or a puppy, these are often once in a lifetime events. The things that make us happy every day are the small acts of kindness towards each other. There are so many frequent small opportunities for us to be kind to each other, at uni with our friends, work with our colleagues, and at home with our family.

Aside from these little instances of happiness, which we certainly can celebrate today, this is also a reminder that there are bigger things that allow us to tap into a state of well-being. These bigger things involve human rights being achieved. This achievement will occur when people have access to essentials such as shelter, food, healthcare, employment, and education. Access to these basic needs shapes our well-being.

So this is a day of gratitude towards everything in our lives that allows us to have a great sense of well-being, as well as reflecting on how we can share happiness and well-being. Because it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, small acts of kindness can enter your life.

Now on a small level, we may not be sharing hugs and handshakes, but we can share memes, this article, our love and many other things to keep each other in good spirits at a time when the world really needs it.


Article by Jemima Barlow

President of the NDSJS 2020

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