International Day of Happiness- Finding joy through time well spent
Bhutan, touted as the happiest country in the world, has developed the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH) which attempts to identify factors that bring happiness to its people. The index emphasizes four pillars: sustainability of development, preservation of culture, preservation of the natural environment and good governance.
Based on the four pillars, the BGN pursues nine domains of happiness, which focus on everything from physical and mental well-being to quality of life, ecological diversity and education.
From thoughtful laws designed primarily for the happiness of its people, to providing free universal health care, to promoting both material and spiritual development, the small eastern Himalayan nation has always been at the forefront of happiness .
In 2012, at the request of Bhutan, the United Nations declared March 20 as the International Day of Happiness to emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to modern development.
The nine domains of happiness include time spent, or how much of our days and weeks are devoted to work, personal development, physical wellbeing, and education, among others.
Here we look at what research tells us about the golden balance of work and play and activities that have been shown to increase our perceived levels of happiness.
Achieving that elusive work-life balance is one of the keys to determining time well spent. Research has found a positive correlation between work-life balance and happiness. However, what defines this balance is not so clear cut.
A Journal of Happiness Studies study of the employed and unemployed found that among employed people, work is perceived as the most dreaded part of the day; those who spend fewer hours at work and instead use that time for other personal pursuits tend to be happier.
But that doesn’t mean that work makes people unhappy – the challenge and meaning that work brings are positively linked to mental well-being. Those who do not work report more consistent well-being throughout the day. However, the report is quick to note: “Consistent with previous studies of cognitive well-being, we find that the unemployed report significantly lower life satisfaction than the employed.”
Ultimately, the evidence suggests that the ability and freedom to organize personal time drives overall well-being in both the employed and unemployed. More than anything else, the freedom to pursue personal passions, whatever they may be, is the key to joy.
How best to manage personal time Since we’re social creatures, spending time with friends and family and in a community creates a sense of belonging that increases happiness, according to the famous 80-year Harvard Study of Adult Development.
This includes participation in activities such as sporting and cultural events or membership in clubs.
Of course, individual preferences play a role here. Introverts might find being alone a fulfilling use of time. Still, research indicates that there is a support system to turn to and the opportunity to engage in social activities when needed that are valuable to the overall pursuit of happiness.
On this International Happiness Day, reflect on what makes you smile and take some time to engage in activities that bring you fulfillment and happiness.
See also: 3 repetition-centric meditations to try