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students walking and laughing on campus
March 20, 2019
3 mins read

International Day of Happiness

I’ve always wondered where we, as humans, find happiness in life. Turns out, I’m not the only one who has pondered this question.

In fact, in 2011 the UN adopted a resolution that human happiness is a fundamental human goal, so March 20 became the International Day of Happiness. Researchers were hired by the UN and encouraged to discover where the root of human happiness is found (contrary to popular belief, it’s not found in beauty, money, fame, or success).

The researchers discovered 10 keys to unlocking happiness in your life and they've called it the GREAT DREAM (after the first letter of each key idea). You'll be happy to hear that all 10 are within your control:

Mark Twain quote

1. Giving

Giving your time, energy, ideas, or money to others not only fosters a deeper community but also creates a sense of common purpose. Generosity is one key to unlocking an outlook on life that goes beyond yourself.

2. Relating

Taking time to invest in and relate to personal connections will give you a sense of belonging that is strongly related to happiness. Having relationships provides a person with love, meaning, and purpose that all work to increase feelings of self-worth.

3. Exercising

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean running a marathon (unless that’s your thing)—it just means finding ways to simply move your body every day. Being physically active will boost your mood by connecting your mind and your body in perfect harmony.

Nelson Mandela quote

4. Awareness

Living in the present moment and noticing the simple joys every day has been proven to increase happiness. Being mindful and aware will help you tune in to your emotions and stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

5. Trying out

Continue to learn new things in your life. It doesn’t have to be official qualifications—it can be as simple as learning a new word every day or trying a different activity. Staying curious and participating in things around you will increase happiness.

Joseph Addison quote

6. Direction

Having ambitious but realistic goals in life helps us move forward and be excited about the future. Seeking direction in big or little ways can help to motivate you and give you a sense of satisfaction when you reach your destination.  

7. Resilience

We can’t control what happens in life—we will all experience loss, stress, failure—but how we respond to those situations is in our control. Learning how to react to life’s challenges in a way that produces strength to keep moving forward will have an impact on your happiness.

8. Emotions

Is the glass half empty or half full? Choosing positivity in your emotions can have a long-term impact on happiness. Being grateful, positive, content, and inspired are all emotions that cause a continuing upward spiral in happiness.

Walt Whitman quote

9. Acceptance

We often compare ourselves to what we observe about others. Learning to be comfortable with who you are, flaws and all, is essential to your life satisfaction. No one is perfect and finding contentment with all that you are will also help you to accept others as they are.

10. Meaning

Finding meaning in life will look different for everyone, but connecting to something outside of ourselves helps to place life in perspective. Being a part of a bigger picture helps us to feel in control and provides an ability to get more out of what we do.

There has been a profound shift in our perspective on what brings happiness in life. Today is a day to take a step back and recognize where in your life you find happiness and how you can help others find it, too.

The world will be a better place if we reclaim happiness, and it’s as simple as making the GREAT DREAM come true.