Sunday, March 19, 2017

Happiness Skills for International Day of Happiness

March 20th is International Day of Happiness (IDOH).  IDOH came into being in 2012 with the intent to encourage governments to "pursue the elaboration of additional measures that capture the
importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with view to guiding public policies."

Connecting personal happiness and the movement towards government's adoption of wider measures of well-being is no small task. It also may be very simple:

Aspire and aim to make others happy. 

If we all did that in our work, our relationships, our interactions in daily life, perhaps we would have a sustainable, resilient and happy planet.

There are four other happiness skills that science tells us will increase our happiness, and tradition indicates may lead to a happier planet:

Do something kind every day.

Say thank you whenever somebody does something for you.

Before you go to sleep every night, think about something that went well.

Pay attention to your feelings.

This International Day of Happiness, celebrate by practicing these five things today!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

What Happiness Isn't

It may surprise you to hear this: Happiness is not always being happy. In fact, if you try to force yourself to be happy, you’re in for a big bad surprise. You will never feel truly happy.

So what is happiness about if it’s not about always feeling happy?  In a nutshell, it’s about integration. You have to feel your lows to get your highs.  You have to be with yourself unconditionally, attentive to your sorrows as you are to your joys.

I was just at the World Happiness Summit (WoHaSu) in Miami where lovely women and men were floating about with a message that if you took this class or that, prescribed to this theology or that technology, you could turn all your frowns upside-down and live in bliss on the other side of the rainbow.  Not so.  When we fail to process all our grief, it stays inside, way down deep. It also send out a dark cloud that keeps us from ever feeling fully happy, eventually landing us in a land where we always come back to a sinking feeling like we are living beside ourselves, detached, like we are faking it. Over time, we start to feel that this state of feeling like a fake is who we are.  In fact, trying to always be happy is a recipe for depression.  That is why happiness is, sometimes, bring sad, mad, angry, lonely, tired, and all the other pieces.

Luis Gallardo, founder of WoHaSu did get something very right about what happiness is. It is the tagline: Feel, Understand, Act. While happiness can be sadness, it is not acting on sadness, anger or hatred.  What happiness is when you are mad, envious, scared or stressed is talking it through, thinking it through, and giving yourself the space to not resist your feelings, and let all those thoughts you do not want to have come into being; and fade away, including the ideas of things you would never really do. Once you have processed all this, then you are in a good space to consider your options. You can find the wisdom to know which options are good, which are bad – for you and others. 

When you do process those things you have to grieve over in your life – people, opportunities, and things lost; an expectation never realized; a need never filled; things that happened to you that you wish had not;  things that you did that you regret– then you will find that your happiness is real happiness.  For more information about how to do this, see our Feeling Sad, Feeling Happy tool for happiness.  

Another thing happiness is not is a brand new movement.  WoHaSu proclaimed itself the first happiness summit. Not so. Some would say the first happiness summit was in 2009, coordinated by Susan Andrews in Brazil. It was called a Gross National Happiness conference, and attended by government officials from the Kingdom of Bhutan, academics, community organizers and many others.  Others would say the first one was the 2012 UN High Level Meeting Well-being and Happiness: Toward a New Economic Paradigm convened by past Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and past Prime Minister Thinley of Bhutan (Bhutan is a democratic monarchy) may have been. At that meeting, Thinley declared an unofficial launching of the happiness movement. That meeting was preceded by UN Resolution 65/309 Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development calling on governments to use wider measures of well-being like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index in lieu of Gross Domestic Product, and followed by UN Resolution 66/28 proclaiming March 20th to be International Day of Happiness. There have been many other happiness movement conferences, too many to list here and certainly enough to say that the happiness movement has launched.

That said, WoHaSu has done something may never have been done before. It may have been the first happiness summit to be launched on a for-profit model.  There are some good things about this. WoHaSu was excellently branded. My definition of a brand is the experienced promised.  Everything from the logo and tag line to the partnering and co-branding was excellently done. And where better place to do this than Miami, a city where presentation, look and feel are highly valued. In Miami, it is not hard to find a Lamborghini car sales shop or fantastic presentations on whatever it is you want to buy or experience.  

But Miami is also a city of deep paradox. Hotel rooms on South Beach start at $400 a night, and an apartment in Wynwood neighborhood can be had at $450 a month.  On my bus rides to and fro, I met a woman who told me of her nephew who died from a bullet to the head while attending his friend's wake. His friend also was dead from a bullet. The tension in this unresolved dilemma is, I believe, part of the inspiration for the brilliance of WoHaSu’s branding for the conference. All that said, WoHaSu may have given the happiness movement a shot in the arm equivalent to a super-charge.

Part of this super charge potential is that the business world – today the chief driver of society -  may learn to take the happiness movement seriously.  As long as the intent, goals and ultimate vision of the happiness movement stays pure, as encapsulated by UN Resolution 65/309 message to governments to “pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies,” then this is a good thing.

Thus we come to the question: who’s job is it to ensure the happiness movement is not diluted or divested by corporate interests? It’s ours. The grass-root activists, community organizers, public media, educators, speakers, researchers, academics, policy makers…all of us.  We can welcome in the companies, corporations, the brands and business, and at the same time, we must stay the course, speak our truth, and keep the happiness movement on track.

Written by Laura Musikanski, ED of the Happiness Alliance

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Third Annual Happiness Dinners

Hello All - a post from our happiness movement friends, GNHUSA!

Please consider hosting and spreading the word about the Happiness Dinners. A fun and delicious way to celebrate the day and what matters most to you during the International Day of Happiness.

Press Release:
Stressing the Unifying Vision of Happiness, GNHUSA Launches 3rd Annual Happiness Dinners Project

BURLINGTON, VT, March 04, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Noting the unique capacity of happiness to unify people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the United States, Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA) today announced open registration for its third annual International Day of Happiness Dinners project.

Dinner hosts are invited to hold their happiness events in private homes or public venues on or near March 20th, the annual United Nations International Day of Happiness. The shared meals and focused conversations are designed to celebrate happiness and deepen our understanding of the conditions that foster greater personal and community wellbeing.

"Given the divisiveness and intense debates which have embroiled America since the election, the 2017 Happiness Dinners are needed more than ever to underscore our common humanity," noted Ginny Sassaman, President of GNHUSA. "We have conducted thousands of interviews across the United States in the last few years. Consistently, we find that everyone basically wants the same thing: happiness for our loved ones and ourselves. The Happiness Dinners provide a safe, delicious, and congenial format for sharing what matters most to each of us, and opportunities for listening with compassion and respect."

How the dinners work: GNHUSA provides guidelines to everyone who registers as a dinner host. The guidelines include questions such as 'What matters most in life?' and 'What is a compassionate response to people who express views different from your own?' According to participants in previous years, these questions result in conversations that are both enjoyable and serious, touching on some of the most important issues of the day.

Previously, IDoH Dinners were held in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Canada, Costa Rica, England, and Switzerland.

Registration and other dinner information can be found here:

The United Nations and happiness: In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, which recognized happiness as a "fundamental human goal" and called for "a more inclusive, equitable, and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and wellbeing of all peoples." The first International Day of Happiness was celebrated in 2013.

In 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered this message: "Happiness is neither a frivolity nor a luxury. It is a deep-seated yearning shared by all members of the human family. It should be denied to no one and available to all. This aspiration is implicit in the pledge of the United Nations Charter to promote peace, justice, human rights, social progress and improved standards of life.

"Now is the time to convert this promise into concrete international and national action to eradicate poverty, promote social inclusion and inter-cultural harmony, ensure decent livelihoods, protect the environment and build institutions for good governance. These are the foundations for human happiness and wellbeing."

Gross National Happiness USA is a 501c(3) Tax-Exempt non-profit organization with a mission to increase personal happiness and our collective wellbeing by changing how we measure progress and success.

We are building new pathways to sustainable happiness and wellbeing in the United States. Recognizing our abundant wisdom and tapping into our collective impact potential, we work with local, national and global partners to celebrate and create resonance between what we value and how we live, taking care to include the wellbeing of all living creatures and the planet. Join us by signing the Charter for Happiness at