Got Happiness?

Alison Cederbaum, Student Life

Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Independence Day are some of the many holidays that we celebrate throughout the year. But something that is less known, yet just as exciting, is a week-long celebration of one of the most important emotions to the human population: happiness. Act Happy Week is right around the corner; this year it’s during March 20th to the 26th. The week will kick off with the International Day of Happiness on March 20th which emphasizes the theme of “Share Happiness.” The website dedicated to this event provides many ways for people to contribute to sharing joy. Readers can sign up to join the movement of happiness, view ideas for happy thoughts to share with their community, and gain access to experiences to spread happiness to children. A particularly interesting part of this website is the 2018 World Happiness Report which gives information about how nations experience happiness across the globe. The scoring process is broken down into multiple categories: GDP, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption, and confidence. In 2018, Finland achieved the top ranking in this report, with fellow Scandinavian nations ranking in the top six. The United States, despite being one of the most wealthy nations, dropped four places while entering 2018 and is now ranked 18th in the World Happiness Report. This is not a new trend for the United States—its happiness has been steadily decreasing since it was ranked third in 2007. This unfortunate downwards trend is exactly what the International Day of Happiness and Act Happy Week are trying to combat.

You might be wondering how can you participate in Act Happy Week. This will differ among everyone. The purpose of the event is to encourage people to focus on their own well-being, but this can mean different things to each participant. There are some small actions, though, that can greatly increase your success during Act Happy Week. The biggest of these is to focus on yourself. Try to experiment with a more optimistic outlook on life, even if you are a natural pessimist. You can replace phrases like “I can’t do it” with “If I try harder, I may be able to do it.” A particularly effective method for raising your spirits is to make your best effort to take life more lightly. It is often very easy to fall down a hole of taking life very seriously. Instead, try to laugh at yourself! Relax, take a deep breath, and smile. Even by just taking these simple physical actions, your mental health and others’ perception of you can become much more positive. As for your social well-being, there are a variety of actions that you can do to become more joyful with people while helping them at the same time. For instance, you can participate in random acts of kindness or you can spend time with people who try to be optimistic and positive. All of these small, easy tasks can work together to make you jollier person.

Although this “holiday” of sorts promotes happiness for a short time, it’s important to remember that  these goals should not end after one week. Happiness is an essential part of living a successful, positive, and mentally healthy life. Trying to be good-humored and creating a cheery environment for others year-round can help to better yourself, your community, and the world.