“The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavors” – Ban Ki Moon
Universal Tolerance – This year will be the second celebration of the International Day of Happiness laid down by the United Nations General Assembly in the summer of 2012. This day highlights the importance of human well-being in a world dominated by self-interest. The UN recognizes the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal. In order to achieve a high quality of life for all people around the world, there is a strong need for inclusive and equitable economic growth that should continuously diminish poverty and that would ultimately lead to sustainable development. Poverty and great differences in income are key problems that have to be tackled in order to create a happier society. However, economic growth is not the only indicator for a happy community. Peace and security also add to the well-being of people, therefore resolving conflicts should be a priority. Other indicators for a happy society include employment, good education, health (physical and mental), and good human relationships (family and community). Good governance is also a key factor for happiness. Corruption, for example, has a negative effect on the well-being of a country’s inhabitants. Furthermore, an unhappy society is often one of the main reasons for social discontent. Even Martin Luther King Jr. was quick to note that if a “person does not have a job or an income, the person has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness”. In this regards, there would be social discontent resulting in crime, conflict, and insecurity.
Happiness is related to the quality of life of people. In general, countries with economic growth and fewer conflicts have happier inhabitants. When degree of their well-being is raised, it impacts on their happiness and this factor has many positive advantages. It leads, for example, to a higher life expectancy and a better work performance (higher productivity given motivation, lower level of sickness). It is therefore important for policy makers to make it their priority at any given time to try and identify factors that help raise happiness in their people and people within their territory to ensure rapid growth and development of the state. It is an important contributor to the success of states. The Kingdom of Bhutan initiated this approach to development where not just economic growth is an indicator but also other factors that contribute to a happy society, like health, culture, education, etc.
To raise awareness on this issue, the International Day of Happiness is promoted through diverse activities worldwide, such as free hugs, flash mobs, and documentary screenings. There has also been a great engagement on social media. You can, for example, share your happy moments on social media with #happinessday.
Happiness should become a global priority and the main goal for policy makers. The subjective well-being of people has to be included in sustainable development goals. The UTO believes that more tolerance towards each other would create a happier world where people live in harmony with each other. Therefore, we encourage more empathy and tolerance at all levels (state, society, and family). Instead of egocentrism and materialism, there has to be more kindness and respect towards each other. Being grateful, caring more about others and having a positive attitude in overall will contribute not only to your own happiness but also to that of others. Small changes in our everyday behavior, like giving smiles to people or giving someone a hand when they need it can show signs of hospitality, recognition, respect and concern and can thus help shape a more positive happy society!