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Celebrating World Happiness Day

by John Helliwell Mar 20 / 13

March 20th was chosen by the United Nations, in June of 2012, not long after the first World Happiness Report was released, to be International Day of Happiness.

How best to celebrate the first one? Why not see what you can do to create some happiness, ideally in ways that might just be catching? I have three ideas, although each of you is likely to have better ones. My three have all been tried in the lab, and work well enough to be worth trying out for yourselves.

First, why not turn your next elevator ride from a short-term prison sentence (often spent re-reading the elevator inspection certificate) into a social event waiting to happen? Especially if it works well, try it again, and invite your fellow riders to do the same.

Second, why not start a chain of cascading generosity in your local coffee shop, paying for the next order or two, and inviting the beneficiaries to share your happiness by doing the same for others? Such chains have sometimes lasted a long time, showing how rewarding, and infectious, generosity can be. 

Third, for a chaser, how about any act of quiet kindness or generosity that strikes your fancy?

What is happening elsewhere to celebrate the day? In Paris the OECD will be launching their Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-Being, a first happiness measurement handbook for national statistical offices. In London, Action for Happiness will be celebrating Happy Heroes at the House of Lords. I’ll be at a happiness conference in Ajman, one of the United Arab Emirates, for the occasion, while in Singapore the Happiness Effect (THE) project will be launching their own campaign to involve a million people in creating happiness over the following 100 days. Why not join the action, and have some fun doing so?