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International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2017

The International Day of Happiness was established on June 28, 2012 when UN resolution 66/281 was adopted by consensus of all 193 member states of the United Nations.

This day is celebrated around the world every March 20th.

We are encouraged on this day to reflect on the depth of happiness in our own lives and to embrace actions to promote greater happiness and wellbeing in ourselves and those around us.

Pope Francis reminded the youth gathered in St. Peter’s square on April 2014 of the importance of happiness:

“your happiness has no price, it cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring freedom and grandeur in love. Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness”. But he warned that this path is also demanding and “requires effort.” Catholic Online

Mary MacKillop’s advice in 1893 also points to the notion that happiness is not a private affair but rather a community activity: “Find happiness in making others happy”.

I sense Pope Francis and Mary are speaking about a deep transformative happiness that may be born out of pain and sacrifice as well as joy. A happiness that facilitates human flourishing and promotes right relationships with ourselves, others, with the world we live in and with God.

Integral to our pursuit of authentic happiness is our ability to recognise and accept our own limitedness and our reliance on God. In his book “Learning to Fall” Peter Simmons explores the “Blessings of an Imperfect Life”. Simmons, through his own personal struggle with a chronic illness, shows that happiness comes from acceptance of the reality of our own lives as they really are. 

He reflects happiness as a “deep gift not found elsewhere”. Not in an imagined life while our real one passes by, but in the “peaceful acceptance of things unfinished...” He suggests that when we happily enter the “cave of our deep solitude...we can accept that human life on earth is muddy and untidy and that we need not put on a face of imagined respectability.” He suggests we strive to live the reality of this world to the full with all its conditions.

There are many aspects of nature, art, music, human relationships and so forth that inspire this pursuit of happiness within us, and many actions we can embrace to promote happiness around us.

In terms of taking action on this International Happiness Day 2017, I saw some suggestions listed on the back of a T shirt that I believe provide a great start to achieving and promoting happiness in these troubled times...


Love Thy Neighbour

Thy Homeless Neighbour
Thy Muslim Neighbour
Thy Black Neighbour
Thy Gay Neighbour
Thy White Neighbour
Thy Jewish Neighbour
Thy Christian Neighbour
Thy Atheist Neighbour
Thy Racist Neighbour
Thy Addicted Neighbour...


I would only like add to the list, “Love Thyself”.

Mary Leahy rsj