International Day of Happiness 2021
Happy International Day of Happiness, everybody! As the Happiness Shop, it's the perfect opportunity to share more about this fantastic day and everything it's aiming to achieve!
What is International Day of Happiness?
The International Day of Happiness is a campaign and global celebration designed to mark the United Nations International Day of Happiness. It is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.
What is 'happiness'?
We're regularly fed the idea that having a big house, fancy car or gym-perfect body is what really makes us happy but as I'm sure many of us know, it's not as simple as that. As the saying goes, happiness is an inside job.
According to Action for Happiness "although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference."
For us, real happiness is about contentment; feeling happy, content and accepting of who you are, what you have and how you see yourself; accepting that life is always going to have ups and downs; and showing yourself and others kindness and compassion. It's essentially a reframing of how you see yourself and your life, and actively taking the time and energy to focus on the good stuff whilst accepting the less-than-good stuff.
Can I learn to feel happier?
The short answer - yes! As Action for Happiness says, "Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn".
In order to feel happier, we have to actively engage with our own happiness and mindset, and take time to work on it. Just like building a muscle in the gym, we have to train our brains to think differently, to form new thinking patterns and strengthen it to make a state of happiness easier to achieve. This is called 'neuroplasticity'.
Just like when we learn to ride a bike or drive a car, we practice. As we practice, the brain forms new connections, and stores new information, as we gradually learn to master a new skill. The same goes for happiness. If we practice happiness skills, our brains will create connections which will encourage us to think more optimistically, compassionately and essentially feel happier.
Our favourite happiness tips!
If you're visiting this page from one of the postcards we created, you've already got five of our favourite techniques to help you feel happier. Read on for our five favourite tips and the reasons behind why they're our faves!
Find three things that you're grateful for every day!
Practicing gratitude is all about actively taking the time to acknowledge good things in your life. A really simply way to do it is to spend a few minutes at the end of every single day thinking about three things from your day that you're grateful for. At first, you'll automatically go for the bigger, more obvious stuff, but as you do it more often, you'll find yourself having to look a bit harder for the smaller things. Being grateful for the small joys in life, even in hard times, makes it a lot easier to take the rough with the smooth, and still stay positive.
Spend some time doing something you loved as a child
As children, we're potentially our most authentic selves. We're more uninhibited and gravitate towards things we enjoy much more easily. As we grow up, sometimes we lose sight of these things we loved for a variety of reasons. Think back to what you did as a child and explore why you enjoyed it. Spend some time doing something similar now and enjoy the uninhibited thrill of simple, straight forward fun.
Perform a random act of kindness
It's always good to be kind, generous and compassionate to others, but kindness actually goes even deeper. When you do something nice for a loved one or stranger, you often notice that warm and fuzzy feeling you get. That isn't simply a nice feeling, it's something really quite powerful. Acts of kindness have the exact opposite affect on us that stress does. It lowers our heart rate, releases stress-relieving hormones and relaxes us. So being kind isn't just a nice thing to do, we get something huge out of it too!
Connect with people who make you feel good
Humans are social animals. We're built to connect with people, and doing so is huge for our happiness and mental health. Connecting with people where you can be your authentic self, who make you feel good about who you are, opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings is a great way to feel understood and loved. Even if you're not an extroverted person who loves people, you can just connect with one single person, friend, family or stranger. And it doesn't even have to be in real life. Thanks to social media and online communities such as Reddit, it's now even easier to connect to people with similar interests.
Remind yourself that you're worthy of love and happiness
This is such an important one. As we start out our happiness journey, it can often feel alien to actively chase happiness. It can bring up uncomfortable feelings we hold about ourselves, feelings which hold us back which aren't necessarily true. So remind yourself that you deserve to be loved and to be happy as much as anybody else. You don't have to justify, rationalise or explain it, simply by being human you deserve to be happy.