International Day of Happiness

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International Day of Happiness
IDOH 5B92E5 TransBG.png
Founded by Jayme Illien
Also calledHappiness Day
Observed byAll UN Member States
TypeUnited Nations International Resolution
CelebrationsMultiple worldwide events
Date20 March
Next time20 March 2020 (2020-03-20)

The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide every 20 March,[1] and was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire and activate global action to advance a new paradigm which achieves the UN's global goals and the happiness, wellbeing, and freedom of all life on earth.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

In 2008, Illien launched a United Nations project which, among multiple policy objectives, resulted in the adoption of UN resolution 66 281: International Day of Happiness on June 28, 2012, with the unanimous consensus of all 193 UN Member States of the UN General Assembly, and the support of then UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon.[8][9][10]

On 17 September 2012, Secretary General Ban Ki moon emphasized the importance of the new international day of happiness in his closing remarks to the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, "Mr. President, during your tenure, the General Assembly also instituted a new observance on the UN calendar: the International Day of Happiness. Let us hope that through our work, including in the new session that begins tomorrow, we can turn that aspiration into reality."[11]

The first ever international day of happiness was celebrated on 20 March 2013.[12][13]

Every 20 March since 2013, the International Day of Happiness is celebrated in 193 UN Member states,[14] 2 observer states, and 11 territories.

On the 3rd every international day of happiness, UN Secretary Ban Ki moon said "Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations," and called upon all human beings to "dedicate our efforts to filling our world with happiness."[15]

Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/281 states in pertinent part:

Balloons of Happiness

The General Assembly, ... Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, ... Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities ...

— United Nations General Assembly, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 28 June 2012[16]

Commemoration by celebrities, public figures, governmental organizations[edit]

2013 The first International Day of Happiness was celebrated and launched with Ndaba Mandela, grandson of the late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of US President Bill Clinton and US Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the TedXTeen conference in New York, NY. The United Nations and the United Nations Foundation also held ceremonies and celebrations.[17]

2014 The second International Day of Happiness was promoted by Pharrell Williams and the United Nations Foundation with the world's first 24-hour music video to the song "Happy". Global citizens around the world were called upon to make their own music video to the song to make the first ever globally crowdsourced 24 hour global music video.[18]

2015 The third International Day of Happiness was promoted by Pharrell Williams, the United Nations and the United Nations Foundation among other global campaigns. Pharrell Williams made a speech at the United Nations General Assembly where he proclaimed "Happiness is your birthright" and asked for action on climate change. Google created a home page takeover which received more than 3.5 billion impressions. Google also initiated a campaign where Pharrell would pop up at random and dance in their google hangouts feature.

History and background of the International Day of Happiness[edit]

Founded 28 June 2012 The International Day of Happiness Resolution 66/281 was the result of the effort of United Nations adviser Jayme Illien,[19] who conceptualized the idea for a U.N. Resolution that would recognize the pursuit of happiness as a human right and a "fundamental human goal."

In 2011, Illien brought the idea and concept of creating a new global day of awareness, the International Day of Happiness, to senior United Nations Officials.

Jayme Illien, founder of the International Day of Happiness, and Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation, gained the support for the idea of the new International Day of Happiness from the President of the UN General Assembly and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as all 193 UN member states to draft and adopt a new UN resolution to create the new international day, the International Day of Happiness. Jayme Illien authored UN resolution 66/281 and campaigned for its adoption by consensus of all 193 member states.[19]

Illien successfully campaigned to unite a global coalition of all 193 United Nations member states, and secured the endorsement of then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki moon, to support the concept of establishing a new official international UN calendar day of observance known as the International Day of Happiness.

Illien authored UN resolution 66/281 "International Day of Happiness", which was ultimately adopted by the unanimous consensus of all 193 UN member states of the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012.[10] Jayme Illien chose 20 March for its significance as the March equinox, a universal phenomenon felt simultaneously by all of humankind, and which occurs the moment when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun's disk.[9][10]

Founder's background[edit]

Thirty two years before founding the International Day of Happiness, Jayme Illien was an orphan rescued from the streets of Calcutta India by Mother Teresa's International Mission of Hope charities. Jayme Illien was later adopted by a then forty five year old single white American woman named Anna Belle Illien. After agreeing to adopt Jayme, Anna Belle Illien founded Illien Adoptions International, Inc, a 501 c non for profit child social welfare and international adoption agency based in Atlanta, GA.[19]

Jayme Illien served as Adviser to the United Nations. Jayme Illien is United Nations consultant and representative for Economists for Peace and Security, a United Nations ECOSOC accredited NGO with special consultative status. Economists for Peace and Security achieved notability for exceedingly distinguished and thought leading economic community. The Economists for Peace and Security Board of Trustees has seventeen Nobel peace prize laureates in the prize for economics, including Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen of Harvard University, Lawrence Klein, Óscar Arias, George Akerlof, Kenneth Arrow, Daniel McFadden, Roger Myerson, Thomas Schelling, William F. Sharpe of Stanford University, Robert Solow, Franco Modigliani of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sir Clive Granger, Wassily Leontief, Douglass North, Jan Tinbergen, and James Tobin of Harvard University and Yale University. Other notable trustees include Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, Former Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou, Former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.[20]

History of happiness and notable historical figures[edit]

UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness's adoption in 2012 marks a new historical milestone in humankind's ultimate quest for happiness, which dates back to the time of ancient sages and philosophers such as Bhudda, Socrates, Confucius, Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, Mencius, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, and religious figures like Jesus, Abraham, Moses, and the prophet Muhammad – all of whom theorized about the purpose and meaning of life, the definition of happiness, and how to achieve it.[citation needed]

Gross global happiness and the first UN high-level meeting on happiness and wellbeing[edit]

On 2 April 2012, the United Nations hosted the first high-level meeting on happiness and wellbeing: Defining A New Economic Paradigm. At this meeting of heads of state, ministers and high-level delegates from over thirty countries and intergovernmental organizations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki moon stated in pertinent that:

"We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness."[21]

This UN resolution marked the modern historical milestone of globalizing the Happiness Development Movement that started in 1972.[22]

The resolution also celebrates a modern legal and constitutional history of humankind which recognizes happiness as a human right and goal.

Stuart Semple Happy Clouds

History of happiness development initiatives[edit]

The following historical timeline lists happiness development milestones and international happiness initiatives.

  • 1972
    • Bhutan's King introduced the Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy and its four development pillars at an international conference.[23]
  • 2005
    • International Institute of Management introduced second generation GNH (GNH 2.0), the first GNH Index and the first Global GNH Index Survey.[24]
  • 2006
    • The Genuine Progress Indicator was updated from a green measurement system to a broader concept that included quantitative measurement of well-being and happiness.[25] The new measure is motivated by the philosophy of the GNH and the same notion of that subjective measures like well-being are more relevant and important than more objective measures like consumption. It is not measured directly, but only the factors which are believed to lead to it.
    • 2006 – The International Institute of Management published a policy white paper calling for the implementation of GNH philosophy in the US and inviting scholars to build upon the GNH Index framework.[26]
  • 2007
    • Thailand releases Green and Happiness Index (GHI).[27]
    • Illien Foundation for Children, Inc. launches an initiative to find "new economic models and means to reduce poverty, empower youth, and promote sustainable solutions to human happiness."[28]
  • 2009
    • In the United States, the Gallup poll system launched the happiness survey collecting data on national scale.[29] The Gallup Well-Being Index was modeled after the GNH Index framework of 2005. The Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes that measures life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. In October 2009, the USA scored 66.1/100.
  • 2010
    • The Center for Bhutan Studies further defined the original four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. The Bhutan GNH Index.[30]
    • The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative OPHI at the University of Oxford in UK, launched the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP). Similar to the GNH Index of 2005, OPHI promotes collection and analysis of data on five dimensions including Quality of work, Empowerment, Physical safety, Ability to go about without shame, Psychological wellbeing.[31]
  • 2011
    • UN General Assembly Resolution 65/309, titled "Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development"[32]
    • The United Nations released the World Happiness Report
    • Canadian Index of Wellbeing Network (CIW Network) releases The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)[33]
    • A leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, published an article suggesting that western GDP economics is an incomplete development model and called for the adoption of Bhutan's GNH philosophy and Jones' GNH Index in Israel.[34]
  • 2012
    • A report prepared for the US Congressman Hansen Clarke, R, Researchers Ben, Beachy and Juston Zorn, at John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University, recommended that "the Congress should prescribe the broad parameters of new, carefully designed supplemental national indicators; it should launch a bipartisan commission of experts to address unresolved methodological issues, and include alternative indicators." They proposed that the government can use the survey results to see which well-being dimensions are least satisfied and which districts and demographic groups are most deficient, so as to allocate resources accordingly. The report list the Gross National Happiness Index and its seven measurement area as one of the main frameworks to consider.[35]
    • Professor Peter T. Coleman, a world-renowned director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, suggested that Jones' GNH Index initiative could inform the Global Peace Index Initiative GPI.[36]
    • South Korea launched Happiness Index citing the GNH Index framework.[37]
    • The Government of Goa, India published a strategy for socioeconomic development citing the GNH Index as a model for measuring happiness.[38]
    • The city of Seattle in Washington, launched its own happiness index initiative, emphasizing measures similar to the GNH Index.[39]
    • UN Adviser and CEO of Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation Jayme Illien brings the idea of creating the International Day of Happiness to the United Nations,[19] drafts UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness, campaigns for its adoption by consensus of all 193 UN Member States, and gains support of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
  • 2014
    • In Vietnam, the prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered by decree to organize the International Day of Happiness every year across the country.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Day of Happiness, 20 March | DSPD". DSPD. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  2. ^ "The International Day of Happiness". International Day of Happiness. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. ^ "U.N.-designated day offers opportunity to reflect on what makes us happy". 20 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Happiness Around the World". Live Happy Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  5. ^ "What's the happiest city in America? It sure isn't Miami, survey says". miamiherald. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  6. ^ Editor, Online (18 June 2017). "Happiness Day with the Smurfs". THISDAYLIVE. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Jayme Illien | CTV News Interview | UNIDOHappiness". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  8. ^ "International Day of Happiness – 20th March – Event Of Day". Event Of Day. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b Day, Happiness. "United Nations International Day of Happiness Founder celebrates 30th Anniversary of Institute for Global Leadership". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "World Happiness Summit Part One | International Day of Happiness". International Day of Happiness. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Remarks at closing of the 66th Session of the General Assembly | United Nations Secretary-General". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  12. ^ Lappe, Frances Moore (19 March 2013). "Got Happiness? First UN International Day of Happiness". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  13. ^ "By Contributing to Common Good, We Ourselves Are Enriched, Secretary-General Says in Message for Inaugural International Day of Happiness | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  14. ^ "America is getting unhappier, UN global report finds". ajc. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Slideshow (accessible version) for International Day of Happiness – 20 March". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  16. ^ "United Nations Official Document".
  17. ^ "Home". Illien Global.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ a b c d Felps, Paula; Cengel, Katya. "Happiness Around the World". Live Happy Magazine.
  20. ^ "ലോക സന്തോഷദിനത്തിൽ നിങ്ങൾ അറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കണം ഈ 9 പേരെ". ManoramaOnline. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Ban: new economic paradigm needed, including social and environmental progress". UN News. 2 April 2012.
  22. ^ "Happiness Economics – Well-Being Economics – Historical Milestone – GNH Institute" Archived 20 March 2015 at
  23. ^ "Policy Innovations Digital Magazine (2006-2016) - Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs".
  24. ^ "Happiness Economics Timeline – GNH Institute" Archived 20 March 2015 at
  25. ^ ""Beyond GDP Paper - Page 2 - John Talberth, Center for Sustainable Economy 2012 at The European Commission Website"" (PDF).
  26. ^ "Gross National Happiness (GNH) – A New Socioeconomic Development Policy Framework – A Policy White Paper – The American Pursuit of Unhappiness – Med Jones, IIM". 10 January 2005. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  27. ^ Green and Happiness Index (GHI) Archived 19 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "Timeline".
  29. ^ "University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Social Impact Wiki Tex Book"
  30. ^ ""Bhutan GNH Index"".
  31. ^ "A wealth of data". 29 July 2010 – via The Economist.
  32. ^ "UN Happiness Resolution" (PDF).
  33. ^ "Home". Canadian Index of Wellbeing. 13 June 2012.
  34. ^ "ממלכת האושר". 11 November 2011 – via Haaretz.
  35. ^ ""National Indicators for a New Era, Ben, Beachy and Juston Zorn, of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University"" (PDF).
  36. ^ "The Missing Piece in Sustainable Peace". Psychology Today.
  37. ^ 김상봉; Nam, Joo-Ha (26 January 2019). "The Measurement of the EconomicHappy Index in South Korea". KUKJE KYUNGJE YONGU. 18 (2): 1–28. doi:10.17298/kky.2012.18.2.001 – via
  38. ^ "Goa 2035 Vision, page 111" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ "Seattle Happiness Initiative" Archived 26 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ "Quyết định 2589/QĐ-TTg năm 2013 phê duyệt Đề án "Tổ chức hoạt động nhân ngày Quốc tế Hạnh phúc 20 tháng 3 hằng năm" do Thủ tướng Chính phủ ban hành". 26 December 2013.

External links[edit]