The 5th International Day of Happiness 2017 takes place on Monday 20th March and people will be celebrating and looking to spread happiness throughout the world and apply the science of positive psychology. Now we shouldn’t leave it for one day to increase our own happiness and the happiness of those around us, which is why it is heartening that there are some national governments that are having specific policies around the happiness of their citizens.

Happiness as a policy

Whilst measuring Gross Domestic Product has traditionally determined the economic performance of a country, there is a growing belief that measuring Gross National Happiness is an indication of the true prosperity for a nation.

It may appear that happiness policies are something new, however, in the 1970s, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan created the concept of Gross National Happiness to highlight the importance of non-economic aspects of wellbeing for his nation. Gross National Happiness covers 9 domains, which are living standards, education, health, environment, community vitality, cultural resilience and promotion, time-use, psychological wellbeing and good governance and in 2015, this had led to 91.2% of Bhutanese citizens being narrowly, extensively or deeply happy.

More recently, in 2016, the United Arab Emirates have launched their National Happiness and Positivity Programme and announced Her Excellency, Ohood Al Roumi, as the country’s first State Minister for Happiness. The country is taking a positive psychology approach to fulfill their Programme’s objectives of the 3 pillars, which are happiness and positivity in government, happiness and positivity as a lifestyle and measuring happiness and positivity.

Also in 2016, India created the State Institute of Happiness, which has been tasked with developing tools of happiness and to implement an “ecosystem that would enable people to realise their own potential of inner wellbeing”. The State Institute of Happiness is planning to run around 70 programmes and develop a Happiness Index for the State.

It appears that governments are starting to take the happiness of people more seriously, which is a good policy to make, and I’m not just saying that as someone who researches happiness and enables people to understand the science of happiness and to learn how to apply the evidence-based tools from positive psychology, so that they will be happier. International Day of Happiness 2017 is a great reminder for people for refocus their efforts to make the world a happier place to live.

Happiness as a lifestyle

Why wouldn’t people want to be happier in their lives? How would the world be if people were happier in their relationships, at work, in communities, in their studies and felt happy in themselves?

All too often we think of happiness as something to be obtained, something that is for other people or that “I’ll be happy when I’ve got that promotion/pay rise/partner/school grade/house/car etc” and yet research from the field of positive psychology shows that happiness is something that we can experience in this very moment and it doesn’t have to be that difficult and it can be fun. So let’s have some fun!

Very quickly, and taking no longer than one minute, write down 10 things that make you happy. It could be absolutely anything, listening to your favourite music, laughing with a friend, an ice cold drink on a hot day or spending time with loved ones. Out of your list, which one could you do right now to increase your happiness? You may find that there is more than one thing you could do right now and it may be that there are many, if not all that you can do over the next month. By doing this, you will begin to cultivate a happiness lifestyle and as the research suggests, happiness is contagious and spreads!

Spreading happiness

And so on International Day of Happiness 2017, how are you going to spread happiness? Are you going to look to increase your own happiness or are you going to find ways to increase the happiness of other people or perhaps both? Sometimes the simplest things can be most effect to bringing happiness and so to celebrate International Day of Happiness 2017, lets make ourselves and each other happier and kick start a happiness lifestyle contagion throughout the world.

If you’d like to learn more about the science of positive psychology and happiness, you might want to join us on our UK university accredited ‘Introduction to Positive Psychology‘ course or contact us to implement a happiness and positivity approach in your workplace.