International Day of Happiness

M Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

File photo: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

On International Day of Happiness, I would like to share my thoughts on the importance of happiness in the well-being of individuals and society at large.

It is but natural for everyone to aspire to lead a happy and contented life most of the time, if not at all times. It is believed that an individual’s happiness depends on many factors, including his or her genetic make-up, emotional quotient, family circumstances and the external environment, among others.

Acknowledging the vital importance of happiness and well-being and “conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a Resolution on June 28th, 2012.

It underscored the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.

“Recognizing also 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”, the Resolution proclaimed March 20, as the International Day of Happiness.

The United Nations points out that these observances “are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.” The universal celebration of the International Day of Happiness, therefore, serves as a powerful instrument of advocacy of the cause— to protect the people and the planet for global peace and happiness.

What brings happiness and joy to a person? Indeed, it is difficult to generalize and answer in over-simplistic terms. But certain activities like listening to one’s favourite music, practicing meditation, spending time with loved ones, relishing one’s choicest food and undertaking exercise are believed to trigger certain mood-elevating “happy hormones” like Dopamine and Serotonin.

While some of the happy situations are transitory, others tend to be more long-lasting. Above all, we must remember that the individual holds the key to his happiness. As regards the question of whether money can buy happiness, research has shown that happiness does not increase after a certain level of income. However, it is believed that bridging socioeconomic disparities contributes significantly to the overall wellness of people.

Studies have also shown that good relationships keep people happier and healthier. It was also found that happy people are more successful in life, live longer, and are better at problem-solving skills. A sense of humour adds to the happiness quotient of a well-rounded individual. It is but natural for everybody to strive for improving one’s living conditions in the hope of becoming happier. Of course, it not only depends on an individual’s temperament but also on #positivethinking and the larger events happening around one’s life. Thus, happiness is nothing but a positive affirmation of life.

It is said that policy-makers must accord importance to the psychology of happiness, particularly in welfare states. As a matter-of-fact, happinesscurriculum is becoming part of the school system at many places as it plays an important role in promoting self-confidence, mindfulness and a positive outlook in the overall personality development.

I feel that GoodGovernance can play a crucial role in promoting the well-being of the people. This aspect merits greater attention in the light of the UN Resolution underscoring the importance of according recognition to happiness and well-being in public policy objectives. I am sure that policymakers will give due consideration to it.

While peace of mind has its own positive effect on an individual, the larger aspect of ensuring peace in a society, country, and the world, in general, would also contribute towards the happiness index of the people. A positive and happy outlook is also enhanced by clean and green surroundings. Of course, it is essential for everybody to exhibit civic responsibility in this regard. Displaying mutual respect towards each other by people is equally critical to improving happiness environment.

The other ingredients for improving the happiness quotient of people include adopting a spiritual outlook, a positive attitude towards serving the needy and helping others in the true ‘share and care’ spirit of Indian tradition, spending time with nature and protecting the environment. Also, there would be less room for negative emotions and complaints if everybody does his/ her duty. Our traditional Indian family provides a strong support system to overcome the risks to one’s happiness such as ill-health, unemployment, discrimination, low income and marital problems, to cite a few. Similarly, close friends strengthen this emotional safety net.

I would also like to suggest to the people at large to shun negative feelings like envy, anger and greed, which are self-destructive and impede the pursuit of happiness. They should, instead, cultivate good habits, discipline, ethical values, positive attitude and enjoy one’s work to remain in a happy frame of mind always.

Finally, I would like to conclude with a quote from Thirukkural :

“What facets of a country make it beautiful are the absence of diseases, affluence of its people, its productivity, happiness of its people and security of life in it.”