The Pursuit of Happiness

By on March 25, 2018

By Chris Libby—

This March 20th, make your world a happier place with acts of kindness.

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the International Day of Happiness, a holiday declared by the United Nations to honor happiness and well-being for all people around the world. While every day should be a happy day, March 20th brings awareness to how important happiness is to our mental and physical health. 

In 2015, Live Happy co-founder and CEO Deborah K. Heisz spoke at the U.N., stating that while the science behind happiness is still new, the potential impact it has on our health and well-being is profound.

“Happiness, or the lack thereof, directly impacts every aspect of our lives, including some that are not so obvious,” Heisz said during panel discussion at the U.N. on March 20th of 2015. “Research shows it affects the relationships we have, both personal and professional. It affects our health, our longevity, our income and the way we do business.”

Happy Activists

Every year Live Happy contributes to this awareness of happiness by hosting Happiness Walls around the world, asking people to write on a card they place on the wall how and why they like to share happiness. Just the simple act of writing it down reinforces the power of our intentions to bring more positivity to those around us. 

When Haylee Bova discovered a happiness wall at an event in Plano, Texas last year, she grabbed a stack of #HappyActs cards to pass out to her customers at a retail beauty boutique. Her view on happiness is   found in small, kind gestures we can do every day. “If you are at the grocery store and have trouble reaching something and somebody comes and helps you, or someone gives you a parking spot, those things go a long way,” she says.

This can create a ripple effect that extends beyond our personal scope. If happiness is a contagion, then it stands to reason the more people pay attention to their own happiness and to the happiness of others, the world can be a happier place. 

Happy acts can be as simple as clowns making kids laugh at a Happiness Wall on a pier in Redondo Beach, California, or as powerful as a young Pennsylvania woman honoring her mother’s last wish of keeping the annual tradition of hosting a wall at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Why should we care about happiness? 

Past studies have shown that practices such as gratitude, kindness, mindfulness and optimism have beneficial effects on our emotional well-being, and emerging research suggests that making efforts to be happier can improve your physical health, too. A recent study from the University of Nottingham found that having a positive mood while getting a flu shot could boost its effectiveness. This is especially beneficial to older adults, where the vaccine is less effective. 

Having happy people in your life may increase your happiness up to 9 percent, while loneliness can be as be as damaging to your health as obesity. Jeremy Nobel, M.D., from the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says the loss of connection to other people can increase the risk of death by 30 percent.

Happier people are associated with higher incomes, strong personal relationships and healthier lives. Ed Diener, Ph.D., writes in his book Happiness that happier people are more likely pursue, persevere and achieve more favorable outcomes in life. Happier people also bring their best selves to work every day and make better decisions. Jenn Lim, CEO and Chief Happiness Officer of Delivering Happiness, says “if you have happier employees, you’ll have happier customers, and in the end you’ll actually have a more profitable and sustainable business.” 

Happiness Journey

Happiness is not necessarily something we can capture and bottle like a cure-all elixir, rather finding happiness is a process that we can practice daily to make sure we have long, happy lives. Like U.N. resolution 66/281 states, “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.” It’s not to say we won’t have bad day or bad things won’t happen. In fact, we most certainly will have bad days and we will continue to witness horrible events. People will suffer from poor mental health. But, a little more awareness about the goodness in life, and the more happiness we can spread throughout the world, the better chance we have of making the world a happier place for our children and our children’s children. 

Visit Live Happy’s map on happyacts.org to find a happiness wall near you. Make an effort to stop by and say “hi” and let us know how you plan to share happiness. You’ll be happier you did. 

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The Pursuit of Happiness