When was the last time you were bursting with joy? Can you think of moments when the entire world around you can stop right there and you wouldn't even notice because you were just so happy? Are these memories precious moments like the day of a graduation, a marriage or a birth? Or are they moments that you enjoy every single day, like waking up next to someone you love, having a good conversation with a friend or doing something you are passionate about? Are you smiling right now? I hope so.
With the International Day of Happiness coming up it's a good moment to list 10 things we should know about happiness. At the end of the day, we are all entitled to be happy so let's brush up on a few facts:
1. Happiness has been an important question to think about throughout the ages. For Aristotle, "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."
2. The pursuit of happiness is a "fundamental human goal". This is included in the UN General Assembly Resolution that designated March 20 as the International Day of Happiness.
3. We know economic development is not enough and that if we want societies to thrive, we need to make sure they are healthy and HAPPY. This is why measuring well-being is becoming more and more relevant. There is an index for better life the Human Development Report measure different aspects of well-being every year.
4. Bhutan has been ahead of the game for 42 years in measuring "Gross National Happiness" instead of "Gross National Product".
5. You may have heard that money can't buy happiness but if you are living in poverty, increased income will certainly make a difference and go hand in hand with increased happiness (or less unhappiness) but after all basic needs are met, money does not seem to really buy happiness.
6. Then again, according to a provocative TEDx talk money can buy happiness as long as you don't spend it on yourself.
7. The happiest countries in the world tend to be wealthier countries with strong social support networks and a distinct closeness with nature: Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden according to the World Happiness Report. The next report is in the works.
8. Happiness means different things to different people but science shows that a lot of people find happiness in helping others and in sharing moments with friends and family.
9. George Valliant a Harvard professor who has followed one of the world's longest studies of adult life has been tracking people for 70 years- says that the most powerful influence on a rewarding life is the simplest : "Warm, intimate relationships are the most important prologue to a good life" as well as "the transformative power of love".
10. The UN is partnering with a host of global stars to create a global #happyplaylist of songs using #HappySoundsLike. My happy song is A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. I encourage you to add your song to this global playlist.
We all know the path to happiness is different for each one of us but we can agree that there are things we can all do, every day, to make ourselves and the people around us happy. Let's do that.