Celebrating World Happiness Day in the time of COVID-19

Today, March 20, is World Happiness Day. March 20 has been recognized as International Day of Happiness since first being introduced in 2006, and was endorsed by the United Nations in 2012 when they adopted Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness as an international measure. What a wonderful concept, trying to spread happiness around the world. How did I not know that?!

I’ve been planning on writing a blog post to promote and celebrate the concept of World Happiness Day ever since reading about it about a month ago. But it’s not such an easy topic at the moment. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since I first thought I’d write about it. And now here we are, kind of in a state of suspended animation. Most of us either find ourselves in self-isolation, which is the smart thing to be doing, or we are sick, which obviously is far worse. Given the reality of COVID-19 and the lockdown of millions of people right around the globe, we might well wonder if maybe World Happiness Day should be postponed for an undefined period of time, just like nearly everything else in our lives. But in fact now is the perfect time for World Happiness Day.

World Happiness Day encourages us to pause and think about what makes us happy personally and what we can do to bring happiness into our lives and the lives of others. And we certainly find ourselves with time to pause. That may be one of the few silver linings to come out of this world crisis. Those of us who are self-isolated but healthy should take advantage of having been forced to slow down a little. Forced to step off the treadmill of life, which we so often complain about.

What makes most people happy? Well, as I’ve discussed in previous posts about kindness, one of the big things that makes us happy is being kind to others. Research confirms that kindness makes you happy, and being happy actually makes you kinder in return.

What actions are coming out of the COVID-19 world crisis that contribute to our happiness, as strange as that may seem?

  • Family time. I’m not naïve, I do know that being cooped up with small children who would normally be in school is not nirvana. Kids get bored very easily. But we have become so busy taking kids to playdates and organized activities that many of us may have let our leisurely, hanging-out-together family time lapse. Now it’s back, just like during Christmas break. We can get out those board games and other in-home activities like baking and making crafts and reconnect with each other at a slower pace. Building new family memories.
  • We know how to stay connected. We’ve actually been preparing for a global shutdown ever since smartphones appeared on the scene. We know how to stay connected with those who are important to us. We’re brilliant at it; that’s practically all that we do! Don’t forget to keep reaching out to friends and family remotely. Human connections are always critical for happiness, and never more than now. And it can be done easily and effortlessly while isolated.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the most popular things talked about as a stress reliever, as a way to calm down, clear our minds, and reconnect with ourselves – and with our spiritual side if you’re so inclined. You’ve never had a better opportunity to give mindfulness a serious try; you’ve run out of excuses. There are many online sites to help get you started. Seize the moment.
  • Bipartisanship. Extreme and damaging partisanship in many countries is being shifted to bipartisan solutions to address this crisis that impacts everyone. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. This new bipartisan approach is a very welcome change for getting things done effectively, with no (or at least less) upsetting and counterproductive mudslinging, and for creating a more trusting society. A more trusting society is a happier society.
  • Helping others. As people are isolated, they are finding new ways to reach out to each other. They recognize the need for human contact. They are singing from their balconies in Italy. Grassroots ‘caremongering’ groups are springing up across Canada, with people using Facebook to connect and run errands for vulnerable seniors in full isolation. Remember, kindness towards others makes the recipient happy, and it also makes the giver happy. One of the best win-wins known to man (and woman).

There, done. I’ve provided a few examples of opportunities for us to have moments of happiness during this crisis and to spread happiness to others. On World Happiness Day, let’s all stop and think about not just what makes us happy in normal times, but what might bring us happiness as a result of forced isolation. What ideas do you have for creating moments of happiness during lockdown? Have you been the giver or receiver of kindness yet during the world lockdown? If it goes on for a prolonged period of time, can you think of things you might do for others or need from others? These are challenging times, but in any crisis there are opportunities to make a difference. Isolation does not have to be an impediment to reaching out.

Stay safe, everyone.

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22 Responses to Celebrating World Happiness Day in the time of COVID-19

  1. iidorun says:

    I love this post! It’s always healthier to look on the positive side of things. And slowing down may be just what the human race needs…I’m going to link this to one of my posts!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks so much, Irma. I agree about staying positive, but it’s not always easy these days. One glass-half-full side to this global catastrophe is not only are many humans being forced to slow down but also that our atmosphere is getting a chance to recover.

  2. Paulie says:

    Great post Jane. I guess that lemons and lemonade saying is appropriate here. My wife is teaching my granddaughter to sew. We’ll see if she can talk our grandson into that. I’m teaching my grandson photography. There’s been a lot of baking going on.
    To the extent we can, we should photograph and write our own stories about these times.
    I think in some ways the natural world is happy. I’ve read that the waters of Venice are blue and dolphins are swimming in the canals and the pollution in China has been greatly reduced according to satellite images.
    I’m hopeful that mankind can take away some lessons from all this.
    Stay well.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Paulie. Great response! Aside from the great suggestions of what positive things we can do during this strange time of isolation, I completely agree with your observation that having human beings slow down for awhile is beneficial for nature. The air pollution and CO2 emissions not just in China but in Italy, Spain, NYC, SF, and everywhere where people have put their cars in the driveways and the factories in slow mode, have decreased with surprising speed. Something to think about!

  3. calmkate says:

    Great post … we think alike but convey it differently 🙂

    Take care Jane

  4. I can count on you Jane to hit the important nails on the head and this one is so timely. Yes, our lives have changed hugely in the past 10 days but, as an optimist, I had already been noting the positives.

    My husband and I have been going for more walks together, we’ve been able to help two sets of neighbours more smoothly return to NS and adjust to their self isolation, we’ve been reading good books, chatting longer over meals, staying connected electronically to our far flung kids & grandkids and nearby friends. It’s good. We will get through this, with diminished portfolios and strong personal connections.

    Hopefully all that our government and health care system has put in place will flatten that curve.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for sharing the opportunities you’ve been making and taking, Jill. It sounds like you’re on the path to gratitude and happiness in challenging times. (As an aside, aren’t you glad you didn’t head south a week earlier, ending up stuck there?!)

  5. Francine says:

    Great blog Jane, I agree with all your advices to stay connected to others during these unprecedented and very challenging times, to appreciate a much slower pace in our daily lives (like reading your b log in the middle of the afternoon) and being able to start so many projects at home that you were thinking of doing for so long , exercising outdoor and meditating, that what makes me happy. Happy world happiness day mon amie !

  6. dfolstad58 says:

    I like the idea of WHD as you do. I am grateful for so much and am keeping active under my wife’s stringent guidelines for social distancing. That’s for my own good though.
    Still today and all week has been unsettling and I know that this days now are critical absolutely to managing the spread of the virus. So I am worried for my family, my city, and the future in general.
    I am taking my own advice and take each day as it comes and breathe.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Keep it up, David. And remember the adage that helps keep us positive: concentrate on what’s under your control rather than what is not. Happy Happiness Day!

  7. Inkplume says:

    I agree with everything in your post. One thing I can add is how to STOP doing things that make us unhappy. We are (like many) working from home. For the first few days we had the news on all the time in the background and actively watched it when we could. I realized that having non-stop updates on the virus was seriously negatively affecting my mood. I’m not burying my head in the sand but I now watch one update at lunch time and another during the evening news and I feel much better!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Linda. What excellent additions. Stop doing things that make us unhappy. Stop spending so much time watching or reading the news! The specific example of the news has been an unhappiness generator for some time now! 😏j

  8. Dr B says:

    Bhutan measure their national growth via Gross National Happiness, not GDP!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, thanks, Dr B. One of my favourite countries. Been there 3 times. I knew about Bhutan’s GNH – have written a few posts about it – but was just told by a friend in Bhutan that the UN adopted World Happiness Day when they adopted Bhutan’s GNH as an international measure.

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