Build back happier – International Day of Happiness 2022

March 18, 2022

Happy International Day of well, Happiness from the students and teachers of Vaisala Primary School in Savaii, recipients of UNDP GEF SGP funding for their waste management programme

We’ve all heard the saying – Don’t worry, be happy!

But how many of us actually think deeply about what happiness is and why it is important in our lives?

The United Nations has established March 20th as the annual International Day of Happiness, and all 193 UN member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority. The day has become a campaign, coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.

International Day of Happiness has been celebrated since 2013 to make people aware of the importance of happiness in their lives. The UN has initiated this by including the Right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness in the Internal Law for Human Rights.

The resolution to make this an International Day was initiated by Bhutan, a country which recognized the value of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness (GNH) over Gross National Product. It also hosted a High Level Meeting on "Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm" during the 66th session of the General Assembly.

GNH measures happiness, taking into account indicators such as per capita income, GDP, health, social cooperation, mutual trust, freedom to make life-related decisions, and generosity. 

International Happiness Day recognizes the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of people the world over and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. It also recognizes 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 people.

This is in line with the launch in 2015, of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness. 

Our state of wellbeing, intricately linked to happiness, is so important that it needs an international day to cause us to pause and ponder about how being happy or being in a state of happiness can have such a tremendous impact on our lives.

This year’s theme is ‘Build Back Happier’, which revolves around the global recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Lockdowns and Covid-related restrictions have led to families and friends not being able to be together for long periods of time, amidst a long list of woes. Economies and people’s livelihoods have taken a huge hit. The stop-start reality that we now live in when lives are put on hold due to lockdowns and the new normal, means that happiness levels are at an all-time low in many places. Instead, it has been replaced by anger and sadness.

In light of this, we can say that there is so much more to this delightful day than just smiles and good vibes. The ultimate goal of the movement is to spread awareness that progress is not only about increasing bottom lines and encouraging economic growth, but well-being and human happiness as well.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that made it a “fundamental human goal” to give happiness as much priority as economic opportunity.

So as we mark this day this year, consider what truly makes you happy, and how you can pursue it despite the current normal that we now find ourselves in.