The first time I heard of International Day of Happiness was about a year ago. Pharrell Williams’ Happy video had gone viral and was still trending strongly everywhere! In fact, Pharrell lent his voice and song to the second United Nation’s International Day of Happiness on March 20, 2014. People everywhere were encouraged to not only be happy, but to create their own videos dancing to Happy. And they did!
As a side note, earlier this month, Pharrell Williams was named the U.S. Happiness Promoter of the Year for 2014 by the Global Happiness Organization. He also has stepped up again for 2015. For the International Day of Happiness 2015, Pharrell Williams and the United Nations Foundation invite everyone to join a global HAPPY PARTY, to spread happiness and to demand climate action.
So, why all this talk about happiness? Perhaps because there are so many unhappy people. I’ve had my bouts of unhappiness, and I have met my share of unhappy people over my lifetime. It goes without saying, most of us prefer to be happy. Unhappy people can create all sorts of problems for others. That includes employers, fellow employees, professional and personal relationships, and family members. Even our pets exhibit happiness, and most owners prefer them to be that way.
Perhaps Thomas Jefferson was onto something when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. As noted in the document, he never actually defined what happiness is, and chose to leave that definition to the individual to determine what it means to her or him. He also may have realized that it’s not enough to want to be happy: The path to happiness must be unobstructed, as long as it doesn’t interfere with another’s happiness, of course. [Ref 1]
Another side note: I get an e-newsletter periodically from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. I recently discovered that they offer a self-paced course on the Science of Happy. Recall a recent blog post that discussed STEM: What is Science?
The course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. Students learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond. [Ref 2]
Knowledge of human behavior and emotions is especially important to promote a healthy, productive work environment where employees can contribute in the best ways possible. Hostile working environments result in low morale, loss of good employees over time, and lost profitability. Too often management concludes that this is the culture of the company or organization. Or it’s always been that way. Maybe, but does it have to stay that way?
Recalling a conversation a number of years ago with a Supervising Engineer (SE) for Instrumentation & Controls at a gas and electric utility that we both worked for:
SE: Do you expect other people to make you happy?
SE: Good, because if you are looking for people to make you happy, you will be disappointed.
Me: People can be very disappointing.
Happiness looks different to me as an adult than when I was a child. Perhaps this reflects personal growth, maturity and wisdom. This conversation on happiness would be incomplete if I didn’t talk about joy. While I desire to be happy, I favor joy even more. Joy is defined as a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment.
Moving from a state of happiness to joy is also a journey that includes growth, maturity and wisdom. In the circles of influence in which I frequent, I have had more than a few persons that have attempted to steal my joy. What I am most thankful for, and perhaps could not say better is echoed in the verse of a praise song that has been sung for a very long time: This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give to me…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.
Now, back to Dorothy’s question: What am I doing to observe International Happiness Day? I am going to join the Global Happy Party (https://www.globalhappyparty.com/) and do a few happy dances for a #HappyPlanet.
Thank you Pharrell for reminding us to be happy! Thank you Bishop T.D. Jakes for reminding us to have joy, not because your life is good, but because your God is good.
Members of the United Nations were very wise in seeing that happier people make a better world. Remember, whatever is or is not happening in your life, you can still choose to be happy.