International Day Of Happiness

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

What is International Day of Happiness? Many people want to feel happy and content with their life, and billions of people on Earth have varying ideas of what it means to achieve that fundamental human goal. International Day of Happiness on March 20th focuses on celebrating these differences while taking advantage of the numerous ways you may find joy in your life. 

Are you struggling to find happiness in your life?

What is the International Day of Happiness?

In 2013, the United Nations and Action for Happiness recognized the need for more emphasis on human happiness. They founded the International Day of Happiness, celebrated each year on March 20th. Each year, this day aims to encourage a more compassionate, optimistic, and happy world through the actions of those living in it. 

How to celebrate the International Day of Happiness

Below are several ways to celebrate national happiness this year by yourself or with those you love. 

Take the pledge

While you don't have to take a pledge to be joyful, it may help you stay committed to your goal of living a life of contentment. The Action for Happiness pledge may help you start the day more positively. The pledge states, "I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me."

Use hashtags 

The hashtag for each International Happiness Day changes every year. You can find the most up-to-date hashtag on the International Day of Happiness website. You can also use general hashtags like the following: 

  • #InternationalDayofHappiness
  • #HappinessDay
  • #ChooseHappiness
  • #CreateHappiness
  • #MakeItHappy

Celebrate the fundamental human goal of happiness with an event

Happiness events like World Happiness Fest take place every year on March 20 with a number of public awareness raising activities. Attending one of these events may boost happiness by allowing you to be around others who are committed to similar goals and positivity. Happiness can be contagious, and you can bring your energy from the event home with you.

Give and receive hugs

Research shows that giving and getting hugs can benefit mental health and boost happiness. Consider giving and getting as many hugs as possible on the International Day of Happiness. 

In 2017, a "Hug Fest' was held at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, recognizing the International Day of Happiness. You can find regional organizations that celebrate national happiness through events like this in Washington, DC, or member states across the country, or you can even organize your own hugging party in your city if it piques your interest.

Support UN goals for joint social, environmental, and economic growth

In the spirit of the International Day of Happiness, the United Nations General Assembly and the Secretary General Ban Ki moon created 17 Sustainable Development Goals for joint social, environmental and economic growth. You can use these goals as a springboard for your ideas on taking positive action for yourself and others to support gross national happiness. The UN goals include but are not limited to:

  • Poverty eradiction
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitation

Taking action in these ways often promotes sustainable development and gives back to support overall well-being and happiness in the community.

Just play

Despite the serious thought and action that has been taken to promote happiness, you may also find happiness from playing around and enjoying life with a balanced approach. A few ideas you can try include the following: 

  • Join in a game of basketball
  • Spend the day at an amusement park
  • Toss a beachball at the swimming pool or beach
  • Play board games with your family 
  • Play video games
  • Explore your city
  • Play tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons 

Connect with others

Connecting with others is one way to find joy on the International Day of Happiness. Making time for the people you love and reconnecting with those who have slipped out of your life can be valuable. You can also make new connections by participating in activities that let you meet others with similar interests. 

Give away clothes you don't need

Researchers have found that giving makes many people feel happier than receiving. For International Happiness Day, consider focusing on what you can give to others rather than what you can gain. For example, you could give possessions, time, acts of service, love, compliments, volunteer work, and other kind gestures.  

Celebrate with a feast

Food allows humans to survive, but it can also make people joyful. Researchers have found that eating certain foods can help people feel happier. Consider bringing your family and friends together on International Happiness Day for a feast. You can connect with those you care for while enjoying food and happiness together.

Attend a happiness seminar

Happiness experts study the benefits of happiness, what makes people happy, and how to create more happiness in the world. You can look for a Happiness Day seminar in March or go to a seminar or webinar any day to get yourself on the path to contentment. 

Consider a Happiness Day flash mob

A flash mob is a general assembly of people who quickly gather in a designated public space, perform, and disperse once finished. One year, some Londoners came together on Trafalgar Square for an International Day of Happiness flash mob. The entire square was suddenly filled with joyful people. A flash mob is a way for civil society to bring joy and surprise to people in the community in an appropriate manner. 

Make happiness art

This year, consider making art that expresses feelings of joy. Since art can be subjective, you can have free reign over the style of art you employ, including what you create and how you create it. 

Find out more about happiness

If learning makes you joyful, you might spend time on Happiness Day to learn more about the subject. You can learn about current happiness research from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, stop by the happiness page at Public Radio International to get research-based tips, read the world happiness report or discover more about happiness by talking with a joyful person you know about how they developed their positive mindset.

Dance for joy

Joy can be effectively expressed through activities like dancing. Consider taking part in a group-oriented dance like square dancing or Zumba. If no one is around, you can still dance for yourself and feel the joyful rhythms of your favorite music at home. 


Volunteering has many health benefits, like reducing stress, increasing positive feelings, and creating an overall feeling of relaxation. It can also boost happiness.

A study on volunteering explored whether people who volunteer benefit from the experience or if it's a placebo effect. Researchers found that many volunteers specifically experienced "significant increases in life satisfaction." There are often non governmental organizations looking for new volunteers to support their lives work.

Promote happiness in your workplace

You can lift your spirits along with your coworkers by completing tasks at work that promote happiness. For example, you can congratulate a fellow worker when they experience success or be an effective listener for your coworkers. Going into each workday with a positive attitude may allow you and those around you to experience more happiness. 

Are you struggling to find happiness in your life?

When you smile, you may find that you feel happier. This phenomenon is called the facial feedback hypothesis, which states that smiling promotes positive feelings.

Smiling may influence emotions for various reasons. For example, one study suggested that facial expressions change the temperature of the blood supply to the brain, causing pleasurable feelings when the temperature drops. Smiling more often might be a productive start if you want to feel happier. 

Improve your mental health

It may be challenging to feel happy when you experience depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition. Overcoming mental health challenges can be a process that requires thought, guidance, and expert care. Partaking in self-care activities for your mental health is one way to feel happier each day. Self-care activities might include the following: 

  • Dancing 
  • Spending time in nature
  • Journaling 
  • Writing stories or poems
  • Cooking or baking 
  • Attending a fun club or group meetup 
  • Taking a break when needed
  • Playing an instrument or singing
  • Getting proper sleep 
  • Seeing a therapist

Counseling options 

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions may seem to hold you back from the activities that make you happy or the emotion itself. If you are struggling to cope and move forward with your life, talking to a therapist is one way to celebrate the International Day of Happiness. In addition, if you struggle to add therapy to your existing schedule, you might benefit from online therapy, which can be done from home. 

Through a platform like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a therapist unique to your needs. Online therapy may be preferable for those looking for cost-effective, efficient, and convenient appointments. You can choose between phone, video, or chat therapy sessions weekly. If you have questions for your therapist throughout the week, you can also participate in messaging outside sessions. 

Additionally, clinical researchers agree that the outcomes of online therapy can be similar to in-person treatment. One study published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education assessed online therapy's effectiveness in improving undergraduate students' psychological well-being. Researchers found that the intervention effectively prevented mental health concerns, improved well-being, and reduced depression symptoms. 


Happiness is an emotion and a state of mind that can have different meanings for each person. While it may not be practical to expect to be happy all the time, there are ways you can continue to find contentment in your everyday life. Celebrating International Day of Happiness may allow you to discover new ways to find joy. 

Life's stressors can make it challenging to find happiness sometimes, including when living with a mental illness. Working with a therapist might be beneficial if you're trying to develop a healthier, more positive attitude toward life.

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