Are you happy? Really happy? Society is beginning to recognize that happiness is a fundamental priority, so much so that in 2011 the United Nations adopted a resolution establishing March 20 as International Day of Happiness. The first global celebration took place in 2013.
What is it that makes us truly happy? We learn from advertising companies that their products will make us happy. We often think that if we only had more money, a larger home, nicer clothes or expensive “toys,” we’d be content and happy. Research shows differently.
In the book Ten Keys to Happier Living: A Practical Handbook for Happiness, Vanessa King identifies 10 principles that contribute to joy in life. King is a board member of Action for Happiness, an organization actively promoting the global happiness movement. She uses the acronym G.R.E.A.T. D.R.E.A.M. to identify key factors that typically impact our feelings.
· Giving: Do things for others; you feel better by doing more for someone else.
· Relating: Connect with people; build strong loving relationships that provide a support system.
· Exercising: Fresh air and exercise can significantly boost your mood, creating happy endorphins.
· Awareness: Live your life mindful of others, mindful of your environment.
· Trying Out: Learn new things! You feel better when you’ve accomplished something and gained a new skill.
· Direction: Set goals to achieve! This provides you with motivation.
· Resilience: Look for ways to respond to negative things positively.
· Emotions: Try to find the good in things; keep a positive outlook. Stop dwelling on the negative.
· Acceptance: Be nice to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Accept yourself for who you are.
· Meaning: Become a part of something “bigger than yourself.” This could mean becoming involved in a community outreach project, a local evangelism campaign, taking time to feed the homeless, or touching the life of someone in need.
By practicing these 10 suggested principles, Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White says that we are showing “an expression of the love of Christ.” White wrote in her book Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing: “There are many to whom life is a painful struggle; they feel their deficiencies, and are miserable and unbelieving; they think they have nothing for which to be grateful. Kind words, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would be to many a struggling and lonely one as the cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of sympathy, an act of kindness would lift life burdens that rest heavily upon weary shoulders” (pg. 23).
So, how will you celebrate International Day of Happiness? How about practicing some random acts of kindness? What about volunteering your time to help someone in need? Coordinate an outdoor group outing or enjoy a family picnic! Remember, it’s better to give than to receive. You’ll feel happier just by doing something for someone else.
You can learn more about International Day of Happiness by visiting dayofhappiness.net/happy/.