Are you feeling happy today? You should be. It's the first ever International Day of Happiness, as declared by the United Nations.
The idea is to recognize "the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in people's lives around the world."
In a message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "people around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature," Ban said.
"On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others," he said.
"When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want."
The day was modeled after a project in Bhutan, which sets a goal of "Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product."
The idea is to take a 'holistic approach' to development and consider factors beyond the economy as equally important when it comes to happiness.
In that spirit, the UN released a World Happiness Report last year.
And as euronews.com points out, "recently more and more governments are including elements such as 'happiness' in measures of prosperity," including Canada, Britain and France.
The United States is considering doing the same. NPR did a feature on this last month entitled 'How Happy Is America'. You can listen to it here.
So, that's the big picture. But what about you - what can you do to celebrate the day, and make yourself and others happier.
James Silcocks of The Independent has a piece entitled 'Ways To Turn That Frown Upside-Down.'
He suggests a small act of kindness can have a big impact on your psychological health and other people's as well.
"I tend to find myself momentarily happier when somebody performs an act of kindness to help those around them. It helps to restore my otherwise ever-decreasing faith in humanity," he writes.
"Likewise, it cheers me up if I've done something which I know will make someone else happy. That's not to say that our kindness is motivated by self-interest; it's just a nice by-product of our actions."
The website dayofhappiness.net has three suggestions for a happier life.
A: Affirm the pledge - Join thousands of others and make a pledge to bring more happiness to others
C: Cheer the Happy Heroes who bring happiness to others and tell us why.
T: Take Part - do something, big or small, and bring happiness to others.
Randy Taran is the author, producer and founder of Project Happiness. In a piece for the Huffington Post, she writes...
"You don't need to go searching for the secret happiness sauce - you already have everything you need to ignite happiness within yourself and influence those around you."
And she suggests 5 ways to activate your happiness, using these categories:
1. Kindness Counts
2. Time for Happiness
3. Feel the Flow
4. Mindset Matters
5. Count Your Blessings
You can read her full post right here.
Another idea is to pick up the Dalai Lama's book The Art of Happiness.
As the description on amazon.com reads, "nearly every time you see him, he's laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling."
Here's a passage from the Dalai Lama:
"I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness."
Or you could take a minute to read the Dalai Lama's Instructions For Life. It's a pretty wise guide for all of us.
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three R's:
- Respect for self,
- Respect for others and
- Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Have a nice day and stay happy.