Internatio​nal Day of Happiness

Every hour of the day, advertisers try to capture happiness in carefully crafted commercials. Celebrities sell glamour and fame as gateways to contentment. To politicians, a growing economy secures happiness for every citizen.

Yet Borgen, the United Nations and other battling global poverty understand happiness in different terms. On March 20, the U.N. Foundation promotes to raise donations for its Emergency Response Fund. The U.N. poses this question on its website: “Have you had enough of being made to feel poor in a world that is rich with opportunities to be happy?”

This year, emergencies threatened individuals worldwide. In the developing world, allies sacrificed material comfort to return stability to their lives. At this time, UNICEF, Heifer International and a number of other partners promote monthly donation plans align financial security and personal well-being.

A monthly donation to UNICEF offers a range of benefits to children:

• $15 a month (50 cents a day) provides 20 packets of high energy biscuits for malnourished children
• $30 a month ($1.00 a day) tests 20 children for malaria, a highly treatable disease.
• $75 a month ($2.50 a day) provides basic surgical equipment to under-resourced hospitals
• $100 a month ($3.33 a day) purchases waterproof sleeping mats for 100 homeless children
• $200 a month ($6.66 a day) provides 80 children with a School-in-a-Box kit – this “ready-made educational solution packed with pencils, erasers, exercise books, writing slates, scissors, markers, posters and blackboard equipment.”

A monthly donation to Heifer International advances families’ food security:

• $10 provides one goat
• $30 provides three sheep
• $50 provides five pigs
• $20 provides 12 flocks of chicken
• $42 provides one heifer
• $152 provides a full barn yard

Furthermore, Nic Marks of Happiness Works reports unhappiness threatens the global marketplace. Discontent workers report lower productivity, higher levels of absence and illness, and less motivation to improve performance. Marks and his colleagues seek to align the needs of business with the personal need for happiness.

Global advancements in education, healthcare and business should factor in personal well-being. The materials provided by UNICEF and Heifer offer stability in times of crisis. Coupling these products with personalized support offers assurance of long-term change.

In July 2011, the U.N. General Assembly expressed a commitment to this emotional support. It deemed happiness a “fundamental human goal” and moved to establish a “more inclusive, equitable and a balanced approach to economic growth that promotes happiness and well-being of all peoples.” The world celebrated the first official Day of Happiness in 2013, engaging more 3.5 million in a discussion on global happiness.

Opponents initially stressed the growing hostilities in Syria and North Korea, questioning the need for a Day of Happiness when conflict rages and tensions grow. Yet happiness serves as a “breeding ground for social discontent,” resulting in these cycles of conflict and insecurity.

A happiness campaign demands greater attention to humanitarian efforts. Efforts can do more than help individuals survive trying times; aid, in any form, can help individuals thrive and secure lasting happiness.

– Ellery Spahr

Sources: United Nations, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian
Photo: DeviantART