Being commemorated for the first time, International Day of Happiness has now become a calendar event. Last year, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness by a resolution that was passed by consensus in the 193-member assembly.
With the aim to promote the idea that the pursuit of happiness is universal, the day recognises that happiness is a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well-being of all peoples.
By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aimed at focusing world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development and alleviates poverty.
Economic development needed
Additionally, the UN acknowledged that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well-being.
The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan, a landlocked state in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, where it is discovered that the citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world.
The Himalayan Kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the gross national happiness index (GNH). The GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where the spiritual well-being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well-being.