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International Day of Happiness


In support of International Day of Happiness, Heather Abbott, Counsellor with Learner Success Services, has put together an article full of resources for us to share with you!


In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples” ( The focus was to help eliminate poverty, take care of the planet and reduce inequities ( Happiness is considered a strong measure of a nation’s progress (

Subsequently in 2012, March 20 was declared to be International Happiness Day. Since then, 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority. The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network has been researching and publishing which countries have the Happiest people in the world in annual report. “The report looks at six key variables to come to a happiness score: income, freedom, trust in government, healthy life expectancy, social support from family and friends, and generosity” ( Generally participants are asked questions around these parameters and how happy they are with life in general (Life evaluation measurements) and how happy they are now (measurements of positive and negative emotions) ( One of the critical findings from 2020 during the pandemic was that the happiest countries had high levels of trust.

“To gauge trust levels around the world, the researchers asked people about levels of perceived corruption in business and public life. They also asked people whether they would trust a neighbour, stranger or policeman to return a lost wallet to its owner. It turns out that how people answer this question is more important to happiness than money, employment, or major health problems. The more you can trust the people and organisations around you, that is, you believe they are competent and that they care for you, the happier you are.” (

In 2020, this report interviewed 100,000 participants from 95 countries, fewer participants than in the past due to the pandemic, and for the 4th year in a row, Finland was the happiest country in the world. Here is a list of the top 1o Happiest countries in the world for 2021: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Austria ( Canada ranks 15 although in past years, Canada has been in the top 10. ( and

“We find year after year that life satisfaction is reported to be happiest in the social democracies of northern Europe,” Sachs said. “People feel secure in those countries, so trust is high. The government is seen to be credible and honest, and trust in each other is high.” (

So those are the findings, but what can we do about enhancing our overall happiness? Activities and events coordinated by the Action for Happiness, ( a non-profit movement of people from 160 partnering countries, offers ideas and activities to enhance your wellbeing and to raise awareness of happiness.

This year the 10 key recommendations which are based on scientific research were made. These are giving (doing kind things for others), relation (fostering good relationships) exercising (taking care of your body and mind), awareness (living mindfully), trying out (learning new things), direction (having goals), resilience (having strategies to bounce back), emotions (fostering pleasant emotions) acceptance (self-acceptance), and meaning (feeling like you are a part of something bigger). Together the acronym spells GREAT DREAM. (


For the full 2020 World Happiness Report check out: If you want to check out your own happiness levels, check out the Authentic Happiness from Penn University for questionnaires and research on happiness at


For more info, ideas and activities and events, check out these links:


If you are a student at Bow Valley College, join us online on for our Wellness Boost on Monday March 21 at 11:30 to learn and discuss some ideas of how to increase your overall well-being and happiness. Email

If you are interested in taking a Happiness course and you are a student, watch your student e-news for the 4-week course to be offered in the fall. If you are staff, check out the Happiness Basics course offered by the Red Deer Primary Care Network at

Hope you all can find some means and ways to put on a Happy Face.

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