Chasing happiness

Chasing happiness

Belt out Boney M.'s version of the Happy Song, do Snoopy's happy dance, spray Clinique Happy Perfume, or enjoy anything else elating.

Today is not a mundane Monday.

It's the first day of spring as well as International Day of Happiness -- two things we should all be happy about to begin the day with a big smile.

However, people seek a different kind of happiness. Pharrell Williams even brings that up in the upbeat song Happy: "Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do."

So do you know what happiness is to you?

Happiness by itself has been a philosophical subject since ancient times. Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle built theories around it.

"Happiness depends upon ourselves," said Aristotle, who also viewed happiness as virtuous activities rather than a feeling. In addition, he believed that happiness is the goal of life itself.

Relevant today, happiness is a fundamental human goal recognised by the UN General Assembly.

In 2011, a resolution called for "a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples".

The following year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution decreeing that the International Day of Happiness would be observed annually on March 20.

Bhutan initiated the resolution based on how the country has valued national happiness over national income since the early 1970s. Nestled in the Himalayas, the landlocked country adopted Gross National Happiness over the Gross National Product indicator.

In 2015, the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect our planet, which are the three key aspects of well-being and happiness.

The implementation of the SDGs is promoted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which also produces the World Happiness Report.

More than 150 countries are now ranked in the WHR following a global survey of how people evaluate their lives.

In the 2022 report, Finland topped the chart as the happiest country, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands, while Thailand ranks 61.

The new rankings will be known today as the World Happiness Report 2023 is released.

Since 2013, the International Day of Happiness has been celebrated under various themes.

The first one honoured the "Happy Heroes", who bring happiness to others. The 2015 campaign focused on relationships and establishing new connections with others.

The 2023 theme encourages people to "Be Mindful. Be Grateful. Be Kind". This swings into action in three simple steps listed on

By being aware of your feelings, recognising the good things in your life, and spreading kindness, things will naturally get better daily and put you on the road to happiness.

The how-tos to be happier and kinder are offered on the website of Action for Happiness, the International Day of Happiness co-ordinator.

Founded in 2010, the non-profit movement aims to help people create a happier world through a culture that prioritises happiness and kindness. It identified 10 keys, such as giving, relating and acceptance, that can be applied to achieve a more fulfilling and happier life.

Action for Happiness dedicates the whole month to nurturing mindfulness by suggesting daily actions in the "Mindful March" calendar.

Yesterday was about cultivating loving-kindness towards others. Today, it's about focusing on what makes us and others happy, and tomorrow the action plan is to listen to a piece of music.

Like how Aristotle defined happiness as virtuous activities, happiness is something we can do.

First, we have to know what makes us happy, take actions to generate more happiness for ourselves and other people around us, and make them a daily practice beyond March 20.

Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Kanokporn Chanasongkram

Feature writer

Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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