The United Nations has declared that March 20 each year will be the International Day of Happiness. "The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal," states the UN resolution.

Hmmm this sounds a lot like the US Constitution “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

What strikes me is that they both say the pursuit of happiness…as in something to be chased after, Nothing is mentioned about actually achieving it…just that we have the right to chase after it.

In 1972 Bhutan started it all with their commitment to building an economy based on more than just an economic index and called it “gross national happiness”. Great Britain established a happiness index in 2010. The US is currently considering adopting a happiness index as well. Supposedly everything a government does is to make us happy.

Four international Conferences have met to-date in an effort to establish criteria for measuring happiness. The very fact that world governments are taking [achieving] happiness seriously speaks to an encouraging new level of awareness and consciousness that the old methods of measuring how we’re doing as a people just don’t work. Perhaps this is an acknowledgement of a deeper awareness that in many cases the pursuit seems to a wild goose chase with a lot more pursuing than achieving.

If they are going to take the time to measure happiness they will have a better picture, hopefully, of how we are doing as a people. Then there is that, hopefully not too crazy thought, that serious attention will be paid to the answers and addressing areas where there are noticeable shortcomings.

Bhutan’s Constitution states “We have now clearly distinguished the ‘happiness’ ... in GNH from the fleeting, pleasurable ‘feel good’ moods so often associated with that term. We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist while others suffer, and comes only from serving others, living in harmony with nature, and realizing our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds.”

Bhutan’s study states that “Overall, deeply happy people have the lowest deprivations across these for key groups of happiness; health, living standards, time use, and psychological well-being.” The other areas taken into account are Education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, and ecological diversity and reliance.

I found reading the conclusions of these studies to be quite eye-opening. A Short Guide to Gross National Happiness Index, by The Centre for Bhutan Studies. World Happiness Report, by The Earth Institute at Columbia University Gratitude can increase your happiness awareness. If you’ve been reading our blog or Facebook posts you know that we feel gratitude is an important factor in how happy we are.

One thing I have found over the years is that simply taking time out from time to time and thinking about what I’m grateful for helps me see what’s working for me, and sometimes what’s not. With that I can shift my schedule or make other changes to give myself more of what makes me happy. I choose to spend a lot less time pursuing happiness and a lot more time experiencing it.

Make up your own happiness index. What is at the top of your list? Take this survey and see how you rate on your happiness index.          


[Photo: A girl from China performs a fan dance at an international childrens' meeting promoting culture and peace. UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi . Photo from"]

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