Yay! Today is International Day of Happiness


"Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day of Happiness, 20 March 2014

We've all heard of Gross Domestic Product as one measure of a nation's success. But what about Gross National Happiness?

Two years ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established International Day of Happiness to officially recognize happiness as a fundamental human goal, and to encourage people around the world to prioritize it.

The UN appropriately announced the goal at an event in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, the country that invented Gross National Happiness. In Bhutan, the government pursues policies that promote real happiness alongside economic progress.

In 1972, as the New York Times reports, Bhutan's king Jigme Singye Wangchuck, announced the country needed to ensure prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government.

Bhutan is a small country, but its move to increase happiness for its people has had a big impact around the world.

There's even a science dedicated to happiness. Researchers have been working to understand the link between feelings of happiness and well-being with physical and mental health.

The Huffington Post  looks at 27 factors this research has identified as critical to happiness. The article cites studies, which show that as much as 40 percent of our happiness levels are within our control, like lingering on positive moments and forcing yourself to smile.

The idea that something as ephemeral as happiness could actually be broken down into concrete factors seems to bear out in this recent documentary film, Happy.

In the movie, a camera crew travels the world looking for the secrets to what makes people happy. They find several important commonalities among the world's most happy people, including strong social connections and relationships.

So, what makes you happy?

People in cities around the world have been making videos to celebrate world happiness day. NBC reports a new video featuring Pharrell William's song "Happy" will be spotlighted each hour on 24hoursofhappiness.com.

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