International Happiness Day

International Day of Happiness is March 20! This event was arranged by the United Nations and has been celebrated since 2013. Much more than simply a ‘feel good’ platitude, this day reminds us that experiencing happiness is a human right. It also recognized the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples (UN, 2012). This is a day to remind ourselves and others that real social progress must include the wellbeing and happiness of all people. 

In the START network, we embrace the concept of PERMA+ (Seligman, 2011) as a model for wellbeing. The ‘R’ represents the importance of positive, reciprocal relationships in the lives of all people. Connection is essential. 

“Our relationships with others are the single biggest predictor of lifelong health and happiness. At a time of increasing polarisation and isolation, the most important thing we can do is find positive ways to overcome our divisions and connect more deeply with each other. This matters now more than ever.”
— Dr Mark Williamson (Action for Happiness)

Here are some more ways that PERMA can help in experiencing happiness: 

Positive Emotions
Positive emotions include hope, interest, joy, love, compassion, pride, amusement, & gratitude. Positive emotions help us to experience the many dimensions of happiness. 

Happiness is certainly a byproduct of engagement. Engagement is closely linked to the concept of “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1989) which represents living entirely in the present moment and focusing deeply and entirely on the task at hand. When we experience true engagement we experience peace.

The importance of positive, reciprocal relationships in the lives of all people. Connection is essential.

Lasting happiness also comes from being part of something bigger than ourselves. This is also a part of PERMA+ with the ‘M’ representing ‘meaning’. This feeling of meaning can take many forms: spirituality, faith communities, community organizations, volunteering, appreciation of nature. 

Accomplishment represents perseverance, passion, and striving toward meaningful goals. Accomplishments are an opportunity for sharing in celebration.

Take the opportunity on March 20 to make someone smile, share a funny story with a friend, watch a movie that makes you laugh, or anything that reminds you of the critical nature of happiness in our lives.  And more importantly, work every day to ensure that all people are able to experience well-being and happiness – it is a basic human right!


Sources & Resources:…
Seligman, M. (2018). PERMA and the building blocks of well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(4), 333-335.