Tomorrow, Friday 20 March 2020 is International Day of Happiness. It seems these days there is a national or international day for pretty much everything, but this is one I discovered a few years ago and I feel is very much worth highlighting especially during this time of global crisis.
International Day for Happiness was started by Jayme Illien, a man who was born in Kolkata and adopted by an American woman after he was abandoned on the roadside as an infant. Jayme went on to create a new model for living called happytalism, before putting a proposal to the UN to create an international day of happiness to help spread happiness, wellbeing and freedom. This work led to UN resolution 66/281 which now recognises “the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal”.
This year’s theme is Happier Together, focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us. As the day of happiness website says, “Everyone wants to be happy – and life is happier when we’re together. So, let’s celebrate our common humanity.”
The prolife movement has come under much criticism and scrutiny over the years, and yet here at Life we are pursuing happiness for all, and we want to work together with as many people as possible to ensure we achieve this goal. We are doing this by supporting anyone who needs our help so that they too can find that happiness in their lives.
In my role as a Life Matters® Officer, one of the presentations we give to young people in schools is on relationships. It is interesting to see students quickly recognize happiness as the key objective in life-long committed relationships. Another talk focuses on the development of babies in the womb. Part of that presentation shows babies smiling in the womb. It’s their first expressions of happiness. That is in itself a happiness-inducing fact which can be seen in the reaction of students when they hear this. One further gem in our talks is a quote from Sally Phillips, actress and Mum of Olly, now 16, who has Downs Syndrome. Sally works tirelessly campaigning for and with those with the condition and has publicly questioned the ethics of the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test. She says Olly “will literally do a dance when there is ice cream in the freezer.” I can’t help but read those words and be reminded of how we often forget about the small, simple pleasures in life that bring us happiness.
So, what makes you happy?
For me there are a number of things. Spring is almost upon us and it is not long until the clocks will be going forward. Hopefully we will triumph over the dreaded virus as we look forward to new life and new growth around us. Already the daffodils seem to be in full bloom!
Being a parent makes me happy, despite being one of the hardest roles I have ever fulfilled. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my son learning about the awe and wonder of life and the happiness that brings him. Watching my son engage with my 97-year-old grandfather and the joy in both their faces as they swap stories from very different stages in life brings me great happiness.
However, nothing brings greater happiness than celebrating life, no matter what point on life’s journey a person is. Birthdays, anniversaries, achievements, all of these bring joy. As a charity we will mark our 50th birthday later in the year and celebrate the happiness that has been shared with hundreds of thousands of clients, families and students to name but just a few.
So, in answer to the original question in the title of this blog, what makes you happy? I hope there is one thing on everyone’s list which is very simple, the celebration of our common humanity; Life! Be Happy.