Do your bit for International Day of Happiness

  • 20 March 2015 | Christine Marot
The happy face of a South African from Langa in Cape Town. Image courtesy of Dietmar Temps

Today is International Day of Happiness, a day on which people the world over are encouraged to make at least one positive new connection with someone else.

After decades of research into what makes people truly happy, one commonality has emerged: our connections with other people are critical to our happiness.

South Africa's Charlize Theron has added her music to the UN collaboration. Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Yet, in modern society, although we live in crowded cities and, for the most part, are surrounded by people, we share virtually no connection with them. The result is social isolation, deemed by researchers to be as significant a contribution to early death as smoking.

In her Guardian online article titled ‘Loneliness: a silent plague that is hurting young people most’, journalist Natalie Gil describes loneliness as ‘an epidemic’ that is targeting the young, who ‘are even more likely to fall victim to its insidious dangers than the elderly’.

Well aware of the emerging trend in our frenetic societies, happiness activists in Milan, London, Washington, DC and other major cities across the globe are adopting a proactive stance to share the message that days of disconnection are numbered.

Pharrell Williams has also contributed to the UN #HappySoundsLike music compilation. Image courtesy of evolverphoto

In public piazzas, community centres and on the street, they are connecting with people from all walks of life to share the message that each of us has the ability to make the world a happier place, with very little effort.

Find out how you can spread the love and collect your free Happiness Pack.

The United Nations has joined the Happiness Day initiative by launching a social media campaign to create the world’s happiest playlist, using #HappySoundsLike.

The UN poses the question: Does happiness have a sound? And, if so, what does it actually sound like?

Spearheading the effort, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: 'On this day we are using the universal language of music to show solidarity with the millions of people around the world suffering from poverty, human rights abuses, humanitarian crises, and the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.'

His personal song contribution was Stevie Wonder’s song, Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Celebrities like Charlize Theron and Pharrell Williams have made personal contributions to the playlist, along with many other stars, including Lang Lang, Michael Douglas, Angelique Kidjo, James Blunt, Idris Elba, David Guetta, John Legend and Cody Simpson.

The International Day of Happiness is perfectly attuned to South African Tourism’s initiative, in which the country’s citizens, particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, are encouraged to embrace foreign visitors by displaying an understanding of their culture and their holiday expectations, and making them feel welcome.

Along with other practical tips and tourist research, a comprehensive online Welcome Toolkit provides the resources necessary to make guests feel at home.