International Day of Happiness

The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide every year on 20 March, and was originally conceptualized and founded in 2006 by Jayme Illien, CEO of the United Nations New World Order project, to advance happiness as a fundamental human right for all human beings, and happytalism, as new economic system, theory, and philosophy, which achieves the United Nations global goals, and the happiness, well-being, and freedom of all life on earth.

The 2020 International Day of Happiness campaign theme is ‘Happiness For All, Together’”.

To celebrate, UNIDOHappiness, the UN secretariat for the International Day Of Happiness, is calling on all 7.8 billion people and all 206 nations and territories, to take the “Ten Steps to Global Happiness” challenge and call to action.

The ten steps to global happiness are “ten easy steps any individual, organization, or country, can take on the international day of happiness, and throughout happiness week, to celebrate the international day of happiness, while also advancing the happiness, wellbeing, and freedom of all life on earth by 2050, when the United Nations forecasts global population to reach 10 billion”.

The first step is “Tell Everyone”, which is designed “spread the word” to increase global awareness about the very existence of the international day of happiness, and the UN’s unanimous recognition of happiness as a human right, as well as happiness as an approach to sustainable economic and human development.

On March 20, 2013, the first ever international day of happiness was celebrated with the launch of UNIDOHappiness, and the “Ten Steps to Global Happiness” campaign theme, which has since become an annual tradition.

The 2006 origin and inspiration for creating the international day of happiness initially came from founder Jayme Illien’s belief that the happiness, wellbeing, and freedom of all life on earth is the ultimate purpose of every human being, nation, and society.

Illien developed his vision for global happiness as humanity’s ultimate purpose, through a life spent on the frontlines saving orphaned and abandoned children fleeing war, genocide, and extreme poverty, and theorizing about solutions to the human condition, and the great challenges facing humankind, after he himself was abandoned as an orphan, and rescued from a roadside in India in 1980, by missionaries of Mother Teresa, who first named him Adam, and sent him to live in America.

In 2006, Illien first presented the new economic theory, “happytalism”, as a new economic system for the 21st century and beyond, to replace old world economic systems (from 5th to 20th century) such as capitalism, communism, socialism, mercantilism, colonialism, feudalism, racism, and sexism, among others – all created more than 150-1000 years ago.

The UN Happiness resolutions are the two UN resolutions, UN 65 309 and UN 66 281, which address the topic of happiness. Collectively, the UN happiness resolutions resulted in the creation of the international day of happiness (66281), and the UN’s call for a new economic paradigm of happiness, wellbeing, and freedom (UN 65309, UN Charter).

History of happiness development initiatives

  • 1972
    • Bhutan’s King introduced the Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy and its four development pillars at an international conference.
  • 2005
    • International Institute of Management introduced second generation GNH (GNH 2.0), the first GNH Index and the first Global GNH Index Survey.
  • 2006
    • The Genuine Progress Indicator was updated from a green measurement system to a broader concept that included quantitative measurement of well-being and happiness. The new measure is motivated by the philosophy of the GNH and the same notion of that subjective measures like well-being are more relevant and important than more objective measures like consumption. It is not measured directly, but only the factors which are believed to lead to it.
    • 2006 – The International Institute of Management published a policy white paper calling for the implementation of GNH philosophy in the US and inviting scholars to build upon the GNH Index framework.
  • 2007
    • Thailand releases Green and Happiness Index (GHI).
    • Illien Foundation for Children, Inc. launches an initiative to find “new economic models and means to reduce poverty, empower youth, and promote sustainable solutions to human happiness.”
  • 2009
    • In the United States, the Gallup poll system launched the happiness survey collecting data on national scale.The Gallup Well-Being Index was modeled after the GNH Index framework of 2005. The Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes that measures life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. In October 2009, the USA scored 66.1/100.
  • 2010
    • The Center for Bhutan Studies further defined the original four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. The Bhutan GNH Index.
    • The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative OPHI at the University of Oxford in UK, launched the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP). Similar to the GNH Index of 2005, OPHI promotes collection and analysis of data on five dimensions including Quality of work, Empowerment, Physical safety, Ability to go about without shame, Psychological wellbeing.
  • 2011
    • UN General Assembly Resolution 65/309, titled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development”
    • The United Nations released the World Happiness Report
    • Canadian Index of Wellbeing Network (CIW Network) releases The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)
    • A leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, published an article suggesting that western GDP economics is an incomplete development model and called for the adoption of Bhutan’s GNH philosophy and Jones’ GNH Index in Israel.
  • 2012
    • A report prepared for the US Congressman Hansen Clarke, R, Researchers Ben, Beachy and Juston Zorn, at John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University, recommended that “the Congress should prescribe the broad parameters of new, carefully designed supplemental national indicators; it should launch a bipartisan commission of experts to address unresolved methodological issues, and include alternative indicators.” They proposed that the government can use the survey results to see which well-being dimensions are least satisfied and which districts and demographic groups are most deficient, so as to allocate resources accordingly. The report list the Gross National Happiness Index and its seven measurement area as one of the main frameworks to consider.
    • Professor Peter T. Coleman, a world-renowned director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, suggested that Jones’ GNH Index initiative could inform the Global Peace Index Initiative GPI.
    • South Korea launched Happiness Index citing the GNH Index framework.
    • The Government of Goa, India published a strategy for socioeconomic development citing the GNH Index as a model for measuring happiness.
    • The city of Seattle in Washington, launched its own happiness index initiative, emphasizing measures similar to the GNH Index.
    • UN Adviser and CEO of Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation Jayme Illien brings the idea of creating the International Day of Happiness to the United Nations, drafts UN Resolution 66/281: International Day of Happiness, campaigns for its adoption by consensus of all 193 UN Member States, and gains support of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
  • 2014
    • In Vietnam, the prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered by decree to organize the International Day of Happiness every year across the country.


UNIDOHappiness: Ten Steps To Global Happiness

Step 1: “Tell Everyone”

Step 2: Do What Makes You Happy

Step 3: Give and Spread Happiness To Others

Step 4: Celebrate a Happiness Month Event

Step 5: Share happiness on social media

Step 6: Promote the UN ‘Happiness Resolutions’

Step 7: Read and Share the World Happiness Reports

Step 8: Advance the UN’s Global Goals

Step 9: Become a Global Partner & Ambassador

Step 10: Adopt and Spread Happytalism



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