International Day of Happiness
Celebrate a day devoted to boosting your mood
This year, March 20 marks the 10th annual celebration of the United Nations International Day of Happiness. Now more than ever, finding a way to be happy in the face of international crisis or domestic worries matters. It matters for our health, and it matters to the people we love.
Feeling happy may not just happen; it often has to be tended to, like growing a garden. And just as growing a garden can help you live longer, so can being happy. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in August 2019 reported that people who had higher levels of optimism had a longer life span. They also had a greater chance of living past age 85.
In 2015, researchers revealed that a 30-year study of 32,000 participants found that those rated the least happy had a 14 percent higher chance of death than their happiest counterparts.
You CAN feel happy
Happiness may feel impossible to experience after two years of living through a pandemic. But there are ways to encourage happiness within yourself. Here are some suggestions:
· Focus on yourself to increase your happiness. Make time to do something you especially enjoy; exercise or participate in an activity outdoors either by yourself or with someone else; learn a new skill or information on a topic new to you.
· Learn to be happy while alone. Self-love is a key factor in being happy and focusing on caring for yourself. Set aside 30 minutes on most days to be alone with your thoughts and write down or audio-record three positive statements (called “affirmations”) about yourself or your life. Examples: “I’m kind and patient with those less fortunate than I am.” “I have a talent for solving mysteries.”
· Do something for someone else. Start by texting or calling someone to tell them what you appreciate about them. Or donate even a small amount to a food bank or charity.
· Limit exposure to social media. Too often, people post photos or stories that may exaggerate something good that happened to them and may not reflect what is really happening in their lives. Try to make actual connections with people by reaching out to individuals who will be truthful with you.
More ways to boost happiness
Finally, experts (on the Happiness website and elsewhere) emphasize how necessary these steps are to provide a foundation for happiness:
· If you don’t have a favorite activity, try to find or develop one. Take an art class, attend a talk at the local library, or volunteer once a month at an organization that’s important to you.
· Eat foods you know are good for you but indulge your craving for a favorite food once in a while even if it’s not as healthy.
· Get plenty of sleep and exercise.
· Connect with loved ones and friends regularly, either by teleconference or in person.
· Try to notice all the good things around you and keep a gratitude journal. Try writing down three things you’re grateful for every day.
These are all the little steps you can take to increase your happiness gradually. Happy International Day of Happiness!