Perhaps you’ll spend a little extra time with friends or family. Maybe it will be a walk in nature. Or you’ll give someone an unconditional gift, such as a meal, a smile, and your full presence. You might focus a little on everything you have in your life and foster a sense of gratitude. Or maybe you’ll eat a healthy meal and take some early rest. Or you could attend to a passion of yours. You could also pass some time listening deeply to the stirrings within you.
And to do any of these things would no doubt bring more happiness and well-being to your life, as studies show time and time again, and that we know in our deepest part of self, should we take that time to listen.
I often wonder whether we really need reminders on how to be happy. I am sure that most people want to be happy. However, other things seem to get in the way of building sustained happiness in our lives and it is very easy to get distracted. I don’t think it is at all because we are inadequate beings, but because our daily lives seem to be dictated primarily by economic and financial interests. We have come to believe that a healthy economy is key for everyone’s happiness and well-being. Thus we are encouraged daily to consume and aspire to inherently unsustainable lifestyles we may have become convinced will bring happiness. We may amass debt and become tied to jobs we feel are meaningless.
I have just arrived in Bhutan on a bicycle. I left home in the UK over 500 days ago and covered 20,000kms to get here. Bhutan was always meant to be the end point of this journey. Why? Because Bhutan is not a country that needs reminders about how to be happy, since happiness is embedded in the workings of society here. No reminders are needed because economic and financial interests are not promoted above other more important happiness raising things.
Bhutan is an inspiration. But it is not only Bhutan. On this journey, as I hoped, I’ve encountered many people, societies, and cultures where I don’t think as many reminders about happiness are really needed. Where people do give freely, where there is emphasis on relationships, and where people do find the time to just sit and be.
International Day of Happiness for me
International Day of Happiness for me this year marks the end of my journey about happiness. I arrived in Bhutan two days ago and have since cycled to reach Paro. Today I feel calm and peaceful. No more cycling. I am so tired. Yet I will still find time to hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery – sit with myself for a long while, breathing in my journey, feeling gratitude for all the people I met and all the things that happened, and then I think I’ll wonder a little about how I can bring back all that I’ve learnt to ensure that happiness and well-being becomes central to everyday life for all people.