The International Day of Happiness is celebrated on March 20, every year to acknowledge how important and desirable “happiness” is to people everywhere. It is now no longer an individual effort alone as policy makers are waking up and incorporating happiness as an essential factor into public policy.
This day is celebrated by various organizations such as Action for Happiness (Happinessday.org) and the United Nations.
Research and Ranking Happiness across the world.
World Happiness Report is published annually by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In its 2022 report published last week, it has scored 146 countries and mapped the world according to their happiness levels.
Finland has been ranked first, followed by Denmark Switzerland, Iceland and other Scandinavian countries. USA is around 19th, and India has been placed in 136th position. Afghanistan has been at the bottom of the list this year. This report was published before the Ukraine Russia war.
Criteria used for assessing Happiness
Some of the indices measured by the Gallup poll while surveying populations are GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity, and perception of corruption.
What makes the Scandinavian countries so happy?
Apart from the fact that these countries have low crime rates and feel safe to live in, their citizen seem to have very little to worry about. School education, healthcare, social security, are provided by the state. Parents do not have to be drive their children to compete to perform and beat one another. If one does not have a job, the government doles out enough to allow a comfortable living. Also the gap between “haves” and “have-nots” (disparity) is small.
Where is the Happiness Research Institute located?
An International academic institute devoted to studying and researching Happiness across the world, is located in Denmark, in the town of Drager just outside the Danish capital Copenhagen.
The scientists ask and try to answer questions such as “Can Happiness be learnt?”, “What are the effects of Happiness and sadness on our health and life expectancy?” and many such.
What can you do to be Happy (or somewhat less stressed) in India?
Try to smile and laugh more. Studies have shown that smiling causes release of certain neurohormones called endorphins. These are stress and anger busters and protect the brain and body from ravages of “stress hormones” such as catecholamines and cortico-steroids. Laughing also increases the levels of the neuro-hormone serotonin in the brain, depletion of which is linked with depression.
Meditation, music and yoga works well, as is the mental trick of switching off the “worry loop”.
Standing in front of the mirror, ironing out the furrows on your forehead, and generating a smile few times a day could be a simple method to beat stress and take a step towards “happiness”.
Happy International Happiness Day!