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International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2017 23 comments

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:

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.

I could go on at length about this, but that is not the aim of this post and many, far better informed, commentators than I exist to do this. 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 – and by this I don’t mean those who happen to be orange. The phrase ‘pissing in the wind’ comes to mind.

I’ve painted a deliberately negative picture, and no doubt there are loads of activities and initiatives being taken today in the name of happiness. One such example is this piece from today’s Metro newspaper. There’s nothing new here, 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 allegedly a website for the day – happinessday.org – and I was going to give you a link to it. But I’ve tried it in four different browsers and it doesn’t load – maybe it’s crashed under the weight of interest?

But whatever is being done today in the name of happiness, I wonder how much of it has any long-term sustainable benefit. Maybe it’s just me being an old curmudgeon but I suspect that all the 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.

One of the things in life that makes me happy is music. So, not wanting this to be an entirely negative post, I leave you with three minutes of musical happiness:

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

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Something For The Weekend, Sir?

November 8, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s the weekend! (in case you hadn’t noticed – no need to thank me, it’s all part of the service!) As it’s a time for most of us to relax and recharge the batteries after the trials and tribulations of the working week, I thought I’d try to do nothing more today than entertain you. As I mentioned earlier in the week, music has always played an important role in my life and I’ve chosen a few songs for you that I hope will lighten your weekend.

The first is by an English singer/songwriter who may be unfamiliar to many: Frank Turner. I love the rough edge to his music, the feeling of spontaneity he gives you. This is from his most recent album, Tape Deck Heart, and it has a killer chorus! Apt title for a Saturday morning, too!

In a rather different vein, and to prove that I’m down with the kids (yeah, right!) here’s the new one, currently ‘riding high in the charts,’ (ahem!) from my guilty pleasure, Taylor Swift. I don’t know why, I just enjoy her music so much! Another catchy chorus too:

Another band that I love, both for their original music and their cover versions, is Walk Off The Earth. Here’s their newest video, released 4 days ago and already over 800,000 YouTube views:

Recognise it? The first of their videos that I ever saw has become an internet staple now, with over 161m views. You’ve probably seen it before but I think it’s worth another look, as it’s simply stunning:

Fancy another? This is a song and video that just defies anyone to watch it and not feel happier afterwards. Thank you, The Lumineers!:

I had planned to finish with that one but can’t resist sharing just one more. For those outside the UK, who won’t have seen these before, the department store John Lewis has built up a ‘tradition’ over the past few years of Christmas adverts that share the magic of that special day. This year’s launched a couple of days ago, and already has 6.5m views on YouTube. It is beautiful:

The music, by the way, is Tom Odell covering John Lennon’s Real Life.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this musical interlude. Have a great weekend!

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