Just when you thought Pharrell Williams couldn't get any Happy-er, the Oscar-nominated producer and performer behind that infectiously upbeat song has become the face of the 2014 International Day of Happiness.
To mark this second year of the United Nations-sanctioned event, Williams and the UN Foundation called on people around the world to submit footage of them being happy: singing, dancing, playing or doing whatever makes them feel jolly.
The best videos are being presented online at 24hoursofhappiness.com. The winners started rolling out at 12 p.m. ANAT/Anadyr time (which was Wednesday, 8 p.m. Eastern time) and, as different regions around the globe hit noon, a new batch of videos from each area are being released.
Williams has even taken the time to send personal shout-outs in some of the videos.
"Of course, it's you that's going to pull off one of my favourite videos," he tells the team behind a submission from Thailand. "It's shot entirely in one take with a fisheye [lens]."
"I know you guys are going through a lot right now," he continues, "but we're hoping that the song and the energy and the movement that you guys are putting into the situation will lift the frequency and will help work out some of these political problems. I don't get into politics, but what I can tell you is that what's bigger than politics — that no one can disagree with — is love."
One of the most popular — and perhaps most moving — videos of the campaign comes from the Philippines. Dancers cavort amidst the rubble that still exists after 2013's Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest recorded typhoon in that country. The video, while filled with high spirits, is a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. If they can be happy, you can, too.
Along with celebrating happiness and well-being, participants are acknowledging international humanitarian efforts. Participants and viewers are encouraged to donate to the UN-run Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which provides relief to regions worldwide hit by natural disasters and armed conflicts.
Back in June 2012, the UN officially adopted Resolution 66/281 (otherwise known as International Day of Happiness and Well Being).
Stating that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, the resolution recognizes "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."
"Happiness may have different meanings for different people," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Thursday, "but we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live."
Incidentally, the UN's international happiness and well-being movement was originally initiated by representatives from Bhutan, a country that adopted a "Gross National Happiness index" (GNH) model in 1970, using a national survey to quantify just how happy its citizens are.
Two Canadians, Michael and Martha Pennock, were integral in the development of the survey. Given Canada's position as the sixth happiest country in the world, perhaps it isn't a surprise that we've churned out some happiness experts.
Last year, more than 3.5 million people globally participated in #HappyDay through social media, whether by sending a Tweet or creating and sharing a cinematic masterpiece.
Something we're still keeping our eye out for: whether we'll see Secretary-General Ban bust a happy move, too.
-- By Dali Carmichael
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