International Day of Happiness: Ways to turn that frown upside-down
Well everybody, today’s the day. Finally, we have been provided with a one-off chance to put our miseries and anxieties to one side and embrace the spirit of cheerfulness, kindness and joy. Don’t you feel happier already?
Well you should because today is the first ‘International Day of Happiness’, an event organised by the United Nations last summer to highlight the importance of wellbeing in a world that is otherwise dominated by financial woes, relentless self-interest and laborious daily routines.
Sounds great, right? Although a dedicated “day of happiness” may sound like a lovely idea in theory, you may find yourself wondering: what can I do to celebrate the occasion and make the world around me a happier place?
Our own sources of happiness can vary; you may be tempted to go out for a delicious meal, embark on a shopping spree, or even just laze around all day and relax. But the main focus of the International Day of Happiness is to direct our kindness towards others – and make both them and ourselves happy in the process.
I tend to find myself momentarily happier when somebody performs an act of kindness to help those around them. It helps to restore my otherwise ever-decreasing faith in humanity. Likewise, it cheers me up if I’ve done something which I know will make someone else happy. That’s not to say that our kindness is motivated by self-interest; it’s just a nice by-product of our actions.
Dr Mark Williamson, the Director of ‘Action for Happiness’ which is one of the main organisations behind the International Day of Happiness, agrees. He suggests that even the smallest of positive actions can have a major impact on yourself and those around you.
“Extensive research shows that making other people happy activates the same reward sensors in your brain, so it’s a win-win situation,” Dr Williamson explains.
“Even if you just hold a door open for someone, spare some change or simply smile at someone in the street, it can really make a difference. These ideas may seem trivial but they can transform our psychological health.”
“Businesses should do more to prioritise the happiness of their workers too. It’s been proven that the happier an employee is, the more likely they are to be motivated, productive, and form good working relationships,” suggests Dr Williamson.
There we have it. We can make ourselves happier by making other people happier. If ever one needed additional reasons to be nice to others – besides the fact that it’s simply the right thing to do – then that surely fits the bill.
So remember: hold doors open, offer your bus seats to the elderly, and put your spare change into charity boxes. And, to end on the cheesiest of lines, remember that if all else fails – a smile costs nothing.
Have a happy happiness day!
Here are three suggestions for a happier life:
A – Affirm the pledge. A simple act of adding your name to the thousands of others who have declared that they will “try to create more happiness in the world” around them.
C – Cheer ‘Happy Heroes’. Spreading the word on social network sites and paying tribute to those who go out of their way to make other people happy. Twitter users are encouraged to use the hashtag #HappyHeroes in their tweets.
T – Take part on the day. In addition to making others happy, there are numerous events going on around the world to celebrate the day, including a ‘positive messages’ flash mob at Liverpool Street Station on Wednesday evening.
For more information visit www.dayofhappiness.net
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