Thursday, 24 July 2014

UN in your language

Happiness

The UN and happiness

7How happy were you on 20 March this year? Given Western European statistics, let's assume not overtly happy. Because, let's face it; a grey March day in Europe is not always the most uplifting scenario. In fact, it might very well be that you cannot recall any specific feelings from the 20th of this rather anonymous month at all. However, the UN has named the 20 March the International Day of Happiness.

 

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Teach Teens Happiness

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Teenagers constitute a unique societal subset in Western society, with their own way of living, thinking, and communicating. The world might be at their fingertips, but rising teen suicide statistics reveal another side of the happiness coin[1].

So what is it that our young people are lacking? Can happiness be fostered, or even better, taught?

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Happiness in world religions

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For thousands of years, humans have been puzzled by the purpose of life and happiness. Over 2700 years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the purpose of human existence is to achieve happiness. It is a central issue in major world religions. According to these religious views happiness and suffering are both part of human existence, two sides of the same coin, and man struggles in between on his earthly path towards happiness, heaven, salvation, or paradise.

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Interview with Nic Marks

4 Nic-by-nile-300x265Interview with Nic Marks, expert in the field of well-being research

Nic Marks undertakes innovative research in the use of well-being indicators in public policy environments and was involved in creating The Happy Planet Index.

Q: Can you briefly explain what the Happy Planet Index (HPI) is and why we need such an index?

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Man is more than his mistakes: happiness behind bars

5Contrary to common belief, imprisonment doesn't necessarily end the pursuit of happiness so characteristic to most people. Deprived of freedom, the inmates have found an alternative form of freedom and happiness through meditation, laughter yoga and the like. The search for happiness doesn't, however, end with words - rehabilitation and reinsertion schemes are often vital for rebuilding the bridge between the ex-inmate and society. UNRIC investigated the case of Italy with two experts: Giorgio Pieri and Nicola Boscoletto.

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Interview with Leo Bormans

Interview with Leo Bormans, editor of "The World Book of Happiness"


F
acts:

  • Happiness: a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. [1]
  • The International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20th March when the sun is on the same plane as the earth’s equator so that day and night are of equal length, creating balance in the earth’s celestial coordinate systems.
  • Physically happiness is created by four different brain chemicals; endorphin, , dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin [2]
  • Human relationships are the most important external factor affecting happiness. The extent to which a country’s inhabitants trust each other turns out to be a major determinant of happiness in a society. [3]
  • Studies in UK and US reveal that the populations’ happiness and satisfaction levels have remained the same despite massive economic growth the last decades. [4]


[1] Wordnet 3.0, 2012)

[2] (L. G. Breuning, Phsycology today

[3] R. Layard, Happiness, 2011, (second ed.) p63-64, 68-9, 80-82)

[4] (For U.S., Gallup Poll and General Social Survey. For U.K., Gallup and Eurobarometer)