Wednesday, March 20, 2013 Declared
The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan– a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. According to the Time and Date website, “The Himalayan Kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where spiritual well being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well being.”
When I read this, I thought that this measurement of happiness also applies to the state of Retirement. One of our most common––and often one of our first––considerations for retirement is the size of our retirement fund and how it will support us in the coming years. Certainly I have no objection to a healthy retirement fund––it can affect how we feel about retirement as well as being a major factor in preventing our becoming a burden on friends and family as we age. However, healthy spiritual and emotional conditions also dramatically impact our independence, our health and our zest for life. Best of all, we can do something about those issues even if we are still reeling from recent financial losses.
Someone told me long ago (probably my mother) that I can be as happy as I make up my mind to be. She assured me that if something has the potential to make me unhappy, I have the ability to look at that situation differently and make myself happy. Eventually I realized that the happier I am, the healthier and more energetic I also feel.
Another benefit of happiness is not only our well being, but that of those around us. Maybe one person’s decision to be happy won’t save the whole world, but happiness is contagious so it’s a great start. Many retirees are surprised that they don’t have as much free time as they would like, but spreading happiness is something we can do no matter how little time we have. Start with your spouse. Surprise him or her with a smile, hug or kind word. A smile doesn’t take any longer than a frown, but it generates many more advantages. Next give your neighbor or the sales clerk at the grocery store a compliment. Send a happy email or use your drive time to make a (hand free) surprise phone call. You’ll feel the warmth spreading and will have been instrumental in making Happiness Day a success for more people than you can imagine.
How will you spend Happiness Day? Whatever you do, I hope it makes you smile and makes this retirement day even more rewarding.
For ideas on bringing Happiness Day alive, read Randy Taran’s article on Huffington Post.
Graphic from National Media