Buck Bond Group
The pursuit of happiness

The pursuit of happiness

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Happiness. The achievement of it is something most people would rate as one of their main objectives in life but what is happiness exactly?

The US Declaration of Independence’s “pursuit of happiness” has become one of modern Western civilisation’s most well-known phrases. The reality is that happiness can mean many things and is inevitability going to differ from person to person – and indeed from culture to culture. So how are we ever going to assess states of happiness if the concept itself is so hard to define?

In July 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 65/309 Happiness: Towards a Holistic Definition of Development inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use the data to help guide public policy, and this was followed by resolution 66/281 to create the International Day of Happiness.

The International Day of Happiness takes place on 20 March and the theme of this year’s International Day of Happiness is “Share Happiness” – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

Many events are held around the world to celebrate The International Day of Happiness, and, prior to that, the World Happiness Report is published. Whilst, at the time of writing, the 2019 report wasn’t available, the 2018 report (which can be downloaded from www.dayofhappiness.net), makes for interesting reading. In this report, countries are ranked according to metrics such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption, with Finland being ranked in first place and Burundi in last. The US is ranked 18th and the UK 19th.

When we think about our own lives, it is interesting to note that, whilst everyone has different interests, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, concepts such as our financial wealth (as measured in the World Happiness Report by GDP per capita) and healthy life expectancy (i.e. how long we can expect to live our lives in good health and free of chronic and/or debilitating conditions) are relevant to us all and will undoubtedly contribute to our states of happiness.

The metrics used in the World Happiness Report do seem to offer a good route towards defining happiness. Furthermore, as well as governments and individual citizens themselves, employers have an important role to play in facilitating happiness. This can be done in a number of ways, by not only providing employee benefits that can assist our health and financial wealth, but by implementing policies that shouldn’t cost businesses much money but can create the right workplace cultures to assist with social support, empower employees, and enable decisions to be made in a transparent and fair way.

In these sometimes turbulent times, it is useful to remind ourselves of the emphasis that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America gave to happiness as a concept and to try to keep it in mind when focusing our efforts on our work, in our free time, and in our many human relationships and interactions.

As the Dalai Lama has said, “Happiness is the highest form of health”, so try to never lose sight of what makes you happy!