International Day of Happiness 2021

I had been intending to start my promised new third series this weekend, but then a whole load of reminders fell into my Timehop feed for this day, and I decided to change plans. That new series will be coming next week: I promised it for March, so there is still time! Those Timehop reminders were for today being the International Day Of Happiness. I’ve featured this twice before: originally in 2017 and again last year, when I reblogged my original post. But somehow, it seemed appropriate for another visit, given everything our pandemic-stricken world has thrown at us in the past twelve months.

In my first post I shared the background to the day:

In case you hadn’t noticed and the festivities had passed you by, today is International Day of Happiness. I think we could be forgiven for not noticing this as the celebrations here in the UK appear to be non-existent. How could this be? This is a long-standing tradition that goes all the way back to, er, 2012, when it was first decreed by the United Nations. Here’s the relevant extract from their resolution, in case you don’t believe me:

I then went on to comment about my take on this:

The words are worthy, but I have a huge degree of difficulty in understanding how anyone can think that we can be told to be happy. It’s a bit like telling a depressed person to ‘get over it,’ it isn’t something that can be made to happen just because someone says so, or wants it to happen. Frankly, with all the evidence to the contrary, I think the UN is on a loser with this one and has many far more serious matters worthy of its attention. The world is in a mess, and decreeing a day to be happy is, frankly, ludicrous. Here in the UK we’re faced with the ramifications of the vote to leave the EU: the levels of xenophobia and racism that the campaign and its aftermath have stirred up; the uncertain financial and political future our country will face when we go it alone, led by a government that is clinging grimly to a mantra that everything will be wonderful when, in reality, they are as clueless as the rest of us; the possibility that not only will we leave the EU but will see the UK break up. Reasons to be cheerful? I think not.

Take a look at the wider world and the situation is no better. ISIS and other terrorists are implacable enemies of peace and harmony. There are ‘populist’ movements throughout Europe making electoral gains. And the largest ‘populist’ vote of them all was the one that bought the lies of a conman only interested in feathering his own nest but has somehow persuaded a minority vote to get him elected President of the US, due to their crazy Electoral College system. But, to be fair, he does seem to be doing his bit to contribute to Happiness Day: we Brits are still laughing helplessly at his assertion that GCHQ was somehow involved in the plot he imagines Obama started to bug his offices. Trumpgate; the comedy gift that keeps on giving.

Those words were written four years ago, as I say, and I don’t really think that things have improved that much in the time since then. I might have understated the Trump effect, though: the history of the past four years has shown that any comedy he had inadvertently given us took a back seat to the damage he inflicted on his country, which is now a very divided place, and much in need of some happiness. Fingers crossed that President Biden can bring that to them, but he faces a huge task, thanks to Trump’s legacy.

I then went on to say:

My point today is to pick up on the apparent stupidity of designating a day to be one on which governments worldwide can do something to highlight and improve an emotional construct. Try telling that to the many refugees around the world, or those who are discriminated against for reasons of religion, ethnicity or colour…..the phrase ‘pissing in the wind’ comes to mind.

I painted a deliberately negative picture, and no doubt there are activities and initiatives being taken today in the name of happiness, though in current circumstances these will have to be in the virtual world for most of us. One example I shared in my first post was this piece from the Metro newspaper. There’s nothing new there, but advice on how to improve your mental health can never be repeated too much. To me, that is exactly what encouraging people to be happy is all about. There is a UN website for the day, which is full of worthy suggestions and smiling faces. But I do wonder how much of it has any long-term sustainable benefit. Maybe it’s just me being an old curmudgeon but I suspect that any worthy efforts that may be being made will soon be forgotten, and that is really sad. Governments, those with the power and money, should be doing much more to help us all be happier. But vested interests tend to get in the way, and the rich continue to get richer at the expense of the less privileged. It will take a lot more than a token day to change that for the better. As you will see if you visit that website, the UN has chosen this year’s theme as ‘Happiness For All, Forever.’ They suggest a number of ways in which we can be happy, or try to help others, but none of them relates to the reality of life for us right now: it’s as if the pandemic doesn’t exist, as I can’t find a single reference to it on the site. Telling us to be happy when there is so much fear and uncertainty in all of our lives doesn’t strike me as being in any way in touch with reality. Yes, it would be lovely if we could all be happy, but there is much getting in the way of that for many people at present. I think their efforts might be better directed at helping people to recover from the pandemic, and in particular the huge demand it will have created for mental health services – these services have long been underfunded, and will need much in the way of additional resources to be able to cope. This won’t be a quick fix, but I hope the will is there to enable it.

As you know, one of the things in life that makes me happy is music. So, in wanting to end on a positive note, I leave you with four minutes of musical happiness. I’ve shared this one before, but I think it is fitting for today:

Try telling me you aren’t happier after watching that than you were before! Have a good day, and don’t forget to be happy – after all, it’s mandatory 😊


42 thoughts on “International Day of Happiness 2021

  1. Pingback: Marchin On | Take It Easy

  2. Day of happiness…mmmh…yes I heard that after the event. Hopefully I try have a lot of happiness every day….Rain makes me happy as it waters the garden and fills the tank. Sunshine makes me happy as after the rain my garden grows. Walking my dogs makes me happy…cooking and eating good fun makes me happy and reading interesting blogs makes me happy. #SeniSal

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that we all have things that make us happy, but I just don’t see the point of a day telling us to be happy. It doesn’t work like that! And for many people in the current circumstances, attempts at happiness will probably feel like they’re trying to push water uphill with a rake – even if it is good for the garden 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps we should just accept it as an acknowledgement that humans have the capacity and need for more than just food, shelter and survival. To reach our full potential we need opportunities for all or some of the following – friends and family, creative pursuits, enjoyment of music, arts and nature. Actually measuring happiness is impossible – some would settle for the absence of pain or having their own home at last, while others aspire to sublime joy with a lover or a wonderful concert.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know if days promoting happiness have any effect, but I believe in the power of positivity. It’s hard not to feel upbeat when you’re around someone with genuine positive energy. Your general point of the government mandating happiness is well-taken, though—a great way to end the post with such an upbeat tune.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m just like a room without a roof here! Seriously though, I am a firm believer that you can impact at least 40-50% of your own happiness and no matter what’s going on in the world there is always something to happy about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, not seen you for a while. Hope all is well. I think you’re right: having a positive approach will help you find happiness, though I’m not sure that works for everyone!


  6. Great post Clive. I looked at the website and it strikes me as condescending claptrap. I know the proclamation is not exactly telling us to ‘be happy’ and it does ask us to consider how to make others happy. But, the UN statement is not connected to international policy and is therefore completely pointless. It doesn’t acknowledge what makes us ‘happy’ or ‘not happy’ (it only refers to the ‘happy’ benefits of sustainable development and enjoying nature; not a mention of good music). I expect the existence of an International day of happiness is quite an irritation for people suffering with depression, or people living in poverty, warzones etc.. I can’t help feeling that if you want to so something that will make you happy, you will do it without the UN’s help in this way. I’m never happier than when I’m having a good moan! And of course listening to your music.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Paul. It isn’t the most useful site, is it! And its relation to the realities of life is almost non-existent. It is typical of the bland, vacuous pronouncements so beloved of official bodies. Like you, I think most people will find the day irrelevant or an irritant, but I’m glad to have found two ways of making you happy 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree that it might be a struggle for some people to be happy these days, but I think it’s nice there is a day dedicated to thinking about all the issues surrounding happiness, and ways to improve your mental health.

    And you are right, how can listening to WOTE not put a smile on your face – great choice!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am usually happy but it is nice to have a day set aside for happiness. This year it falls on the day we say goodbye to my dear mother, and although I am sad I will not see her again on this earth, I am happy I had such a special mother and that she lived to be 92. Such great memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I didn’t know there was a day to be happy. I am usually happy, I have been struggling with the work and life balance for a year now, but I am still generally able to achieve happiness most of the time. I think it is a state of mind. Populism often goes hand in hand with recessions and time of greater poverty. People become protective and close minded when they feel threatened.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s not one of the better known ones, is it! I’m glad you can be happy in the face of those difficulties. You’re right, it is a state of mind, and I think many people might need help with it in current times.


  10. I’m with Stevie on this one, Clive. Fortunately, I’ve always been a positive person, but small things like taking my dogs out for a walk and watching them run around and play makes me happy. Also, listening to music while I write is another way that makes me happy, especially when the music brings back happy memories.
    The video you shared also made me smile – which is a kind of happiness.

    I hope your day has some happiness in it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m generally positive too, Hugh, though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise after this post. I’ve had to stay indoors for health reasons but I find plenty of happiness, especially in music. You have a day of happiness too 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think you’re right in that there’s not much to be happy about at the moment. However, little steps can be made to make our lives happier; perhaps something like a walk in the park in the sunshine is a start. It certainly cheered me up last weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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