The Pursuit of Happiness – #HappyDay

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Today being the International Day of Happiness compelled me to spend some time researching and thinking about ‘happiness’.

The Greek language has a beautiful word for happiness – ‘eudaimonia’ – the exact translation of which is ‘human flourishing’. Eudaimonia is central to Aristotle’s philosophy that ‘happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’ I often struggle when I think about the purpose of my life, and reading this quote put my mind at ease. Is it really that simple?

Happiness means different things to different people. The World Happiness Report says income levels are not the only indicators of well-being in rich and poor countries. Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are more important; and at the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to rely on, job security and a stable family are central to happiness.  But then again, to people living in poverty, fighting for food and water – 3 billion people (!) – is ‘happiness’ even relevant?

Happiness was put on the global agenda because of Bhutan, a tiny ‘land of dragons’ with a population of about 750,000 people. Happiness has been an organizing principle for governance in Bhutan since the early 18th Century when it declared that “if the Government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.” In 1972, Bhutan launched the Gross National Happiness Index recognizing happiness as a more important measure of prosperity than the Gross Domestic Product.

Following their inherent way of functioning and to extend it beyond borders, Bhutan called for a high-level meeting at the UN headquarters to discuss the importance of happiness as a universal goal. In the meeting held on April 2nd 2012, it discussed the need to have a new global sustainability-based economic paradigm for human happiness and well-being of all life forms to replace the current dysfunctional system that is based on the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet. The full report of the meeting can be read here; it’s fascinating to see how happiness can be incorporated into governance.

Some call the meeting a fantastic public relations stunt by Bhutan, but the concept of happiness is so engrained in the policies that govern the country, it’s definitely more than that. Hats off to them for getting the world to recognize this fundamental need for a better planet, even if it was just for publicity! This year happiness is even on Dubai’s agenda.

And then I was pleasantly surprised to find movements such as actsofhappiness, projecthappiness, actionforhappiness that work towards making people happy and encouraging people and companies to spread happiness and drive socio-economic change.

Today, fortunately or unfortunately Pharrell Williams owns the word Happy. And I really don’t know what to say about that except that you can’t hold anything against anyone who is promoting happiness J.

#Day 7, post 6.

Postcards from strangers

postcard

The most exciting new thing I’ve done in a while, is sign up to PostCrossing.com. As somebody who is thrilled by receiving postcards (irrespective of whom they are from), on discovering this service through dear friend Grizzled Old Sean [ha!:)] I haven’t been able to contain my excitement.

Ok ok, I’m not getting orgasms from this service, but it’s super cool because you get to send and receive postcards (real ones IN THE POST!) from complete strangers. PostCrossing currently has over 86,500 members from 191 countries, and 300 postcards are sent every hour!

It’s not entirely like Pen Pals, because the person I send a postcard to may not necessarily send me one back. But that’s cool, because I’m not in it to make new friends, I just want random postcards!

Today I sent a postcard to someone in New Orleans and to another in Metsapyyntie (!?) in Finland. The more you send, the more you receive; you can even do personal swaps if you’re a collector of kinds.

Most people I’ve shared this info with think it’s lame, I think it’s awesome. I don’t want to compare it to Post Secret (which I also think is awesome), because it’s completely different. Anyway, will post a picture of the first postcard I receive! You can read more details about the service here.