By Benjamin Ridgely, Behavior Coach
“Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.” This was an intriguing statement from Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations, during the 2012 international conference on happiness and well-being. The former UN General Secretary commented that the “Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured” and suggests that happiness be included in our standard calculations of progress. This is being called a new economic model where the overall happiness of a country’s citizens is integrated into the indicators of progression and sustainability. This isn’t suggesting that happiness is paramount but rather, just as important as market efficiency for overall sustainability. Therefore, the target goal of happiness should become a progressive initiative for all individuals and groups. And as a reminder of this initiative, March 20th has been dedicated as International Day of Happiness.
According to National Today, this day “serves to remind us that being happy is a human right and worth celebrating,” which may seem obvious to most of us. So why aren’t we using every opportunity possible to celebrate this wonderful experience we have with each other? Well…..why don’t you ask yourself that? All of us have a “laundry list” of tasks to complete throughout the day, which likely includes things that make us happy. Much like a global economy, we prioritize these tasks according to how we believe it is going to benefit us. To somehow balance responsibilities and pleasure is the great conquest of any individual throughout their adult life. We know, in a general way, that too much of one and not enough of the other can easily result in less overall happiness. Overcommitting to work related responsibilities causes strain in personal relationships; watching too much TV can lead to procrastination, etc. Whatever the case may be, balance is an ongoing and careful process.
So how does your “laundry list” compare? An honest reflection may uncover the opportunities for happiness that are sacrificed during attempts to accomplish some other task. This may seem like a simple idea, and it is. But it takes a deliberate effort to pay attention to. A brief moment to acknowledge that inner yearning for joy in the midst of life’s chaos.
A space to ask yourself, “Am I thriving, or surviving?”
An honest answer to this question can be the first step towards reprioritizing the laundry list to include more of what makes you happy. And according to Ban Ki Moon’s theory, this could help in establishing a sense of sustainability in your life. Overall, today serves to remind us that we are more than machines programmed for efficiency and that our motivation for happiness is just as natural as our drive for survival.
So please, for the sake of the world, be happy.
Supporting happiness in our life isn’t always as easy as reprioritizing things and exerting our wills towards different goals. Mental illness affects many of us, and it’s important to recognize these symptoms as barriers that stand in the way of establishing environments that support happiness. Reaching out for help and getting connected with a professional could be the necessary first step for a lot of us.