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 😊