Happier…Kinder…Together…

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There is always in our circle of friends, family or colleagues, someone whose company we seek out or long for.

It’s because his or her presence makes us feel lighthearted, or brings comfort, peace, happiness and joy.

How we wish we can always be happy especially in this world today which has become checkered with uncertainty, strife, fear and pessimism.

I remember what an old friend used to remind us when we looked troubled and fretful. “Happiness is contagious,” he said. And so is sadness, we agreed, that’s why we would always end up smiling when we were on the brink of frowning or sulking.

Indeed, happiness is, to use the language of the pandemic, a virus, it is one that we welcome in our being to infect us with.

We may not be happy 24/7 but there is one occasion that reminds us to aim off the path of worry, stress and anguish. It is the International Day of Happiness which is will be celebrated on Sunday next week – on March 20.

Happiness for Action, an organization that promotes the observance, has chosen “Happier. Kinder. Together.” as the IDH theme this year.

The focus underscores the value of collective and wider efforts to advance joy and compassion, each trait apparently an effect of the other.

The IDH celebration is spearheaded by the United Nations in recognition of “the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.”

Interestingly, Europe dominates the list of the happiest countries in the world today, with Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway in the Top Five of the list.

Only New Zealand, at No. 8, is the non-European nation in the roster.

The rest in the Top 10 are Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg.

Obviously these nations are among the most financially stable places.

It doesn’t mean, however, that money brings happiness but it assures better health care and educational system as well as superior social and welfare services.

Action for happiness asserts especially this year that good health and wellbeing are vital to one’s happiness.

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Numerous thoughts about happiness have been expressed across the ages, which all sums up to its universal value.

Said former U.S. First Lady, the late Eleanor Roosevelt: “Happiness is not a goal. It’s a byproduct of a life well-lived.”

Another thought was emphasized by the Dalai Lama: “I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.”

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts,” said Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Considered as the most powerful teaching on joy and blessedness is Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, which is found in Matthew Chapter 5.

Theologians interpret the key word in the chapter, “Blessed” to mean also as “happy”.

The teaching outlines the formula for a life meaningfully lived – for, among others, the peacemakers, the meek, those who are pure in heart and those who hunger – as they are assured of joy and heavenly reward.

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Happiness has been one of the common underlying themes of written or spoken words composed to express one’s emotion or feelings – a field of creative communication and art l popularly known as “poetry”.

I can vividly recall that day when we were made to interpret William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”.

“Feel the meaning of each key words,” our Oral Interpretation professor said, “and express these words profoundly so you can take the listener to the scene of action and make them visualize in their imagination the initial emotion of loneliness transformed into the rapture of joy brought about by the sight of thousands of colorful daffodil blooms.”

Such is the power of poetry which is the focus of another observance – World Poetry Day on March 21.

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UNESCO, which spearheads the celebration, said WPD “celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity.”

Poetry speaks to our common humanity and shared values, transforming the simplest poems into a powerful catalyst for change, UNESCO added.

The inter-connectedness of the art forms show that money verses and poems have inspired the composition of lyrics and music, producing well-loved songs, like “Desiderata” and “Footprints in the Sand”.

The same is true with church music. “How Great Thou Art”, a hymn of adoration, is based on a traditional Swedish melody and poem written by Carl Beberg in 1885.

More than a century earlier – in 1772 – John Newton, an English seaman, penned the text of what would become the most popular and well-loved Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace”.

We celebrate with thanksgiving this form of art, often our source of joy, happiness and hope in humanity.

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such thing there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) – NWI

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