OPINION - There is nothing more depressing than Happiness Day

·2-min read
 (Daniel Hambury)
(Daniel Hambury)

Happy Monday! Don’t you just hate it when people say that? Ditto Tuesday, Wednesday and every other day. But it’s remarkable how this frightful habit has caught on, chiefly on the part of PRs. It calls to mind the Brit in America who, on being told to have a nice day, responded: “Thank you; I have other plans”. And because it’s International Happiness Day, we can expect a lot more of the Pollyanna stuff.

So how did this insanity come about? It’s courtesy of those happiness merchants, the UN General Assembly. As the official site of the Day reminds us, “it has been over 10 years since the first World Happiness Report was published. And it is exactly 10 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/281, proclaiming March 20 to be observed annually as International Day of Happiness.”

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There you go: 10 years since the UN voted to solve the human condition, courtesy of Resolution 66/281, with the happy results we now see.

If you want your personal happiness register to dip a small but discernible bit, go to the website to find instructions on how to celebrate the day: “Be Mindful; Be Grateful; Be Kind”.

Cue for a bright yellow emoji of a smile and a picture of brainwashed infants holding up their fingers in a mindfulness session somewhere, notwithstanding the serious questions that have been raised about the practice (which can, in brief, become a flight from reality rather than a way of engaging with it).

A cohort of happiness specialists, including Richard Layard, former happiness tsar, has written a report to tell us how to be happier. The secret, apparently, is that “Income, health, having someone to count on, having a sense of freedom to make key life decisions, generosity, and the absence of corruption all play strong roles in supporting life evaluations”. Simple, no?

I’d say that happiness, insofar it is to be found in this life, is that paradoxical thing, elusive when sought for itself. Aristotle thought it was the fulfilment of the unique human function, the right use of reason — allied to his other priority, moderation in all things. Aquinas thought it was the knowledge of God. Either strikes me as a more useful end than sending out happy emojis or passing UN resolutions. Happy Happiness Day? Not for me, thanks.