What makes us happy? And why is it important? According to the Secretary General of the United Nations, “The twin concepts of happiness and well-being increasingly feature in international discussions of sustainable development and the future we want.” In the 1970’s, the country of Bhutan asked the question - what if instead of measuring the success of a nation by how much money it makes, its GDP – Gross Domestic Product, we measured the success of a nation by the well-being of its citizens, its GNH - Gross National Happiness? Recognizing the importance of this type of discussion, in July of 2012 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution proclaiming March 20th as the International Day of Happiness. In statements, the Secretary General of the U.N. has declared that “Many countries are going beyond the rhetoric of quality of life to incorporate practical measures to promote these concepts in their legislation and policy-making. These good practices can inspire other countries so that measuring and accounting for broader well-being, and not simply national income, becomes a universal practice.”
Local First AZ member, Anita Fonte, of Community Renaissance was inspired by these actions and in the fall of 2012, began an informal interview process with thirty-two residents of Tucson and Phoenix, asking them how they defined happiness and prosperity. In May, 2013, Community Renaissance published her interview findings and broader research into the happiness movement with a small publication, "Talk UP Tucson: An Exploration of Community Happiness and Prosperity". This work formed the basis of a collaboration with the Pima Public Library in the fall of 2013 for Happiness Community Conversations at three library branches. The timing of these conversations coincided with the Downtown Happiness Lectures at the Fox Theatre convened by the University of Arizona/College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. This year, Fonte has created an even larger coalition called “Do Happy Today”.
The purpose of DHT is promoting activities, events and resources that increase personal and community happiness,” says Fonte. “Our primary goal is to collaborate with individuals and organizations in order to establish the March 20, 2015 International Day of Happiness in the Tucson and Southern Arizona regions. DHT believes one day of happiness is a start, but not an end goal for our collaboration. We want to see communities throughout Arizona deepen and expand positivity and prosperity for all residents. To that end, Do Happy Today encourages community development measurements supported by the national Be-A-Localist movement.”
The DHT coalition includes diverse members of the community. “Every business or organization has a way they can tie in to our mission of promoting happiness within their organization,” says Fonte. “Right now DHT includes Local First Arizona, the City of Tucson’s Mayor Rothschild, City of Tucson Office of Integrated Planning, Parks and Recreation, Kellond Elementary School, Pima County Public Library and many others. We have also recently recruited our first DHT ambassador, extending Do Happy Today into Bisbee. Our community organizations and individual members represent Tucson, South Tucson, and Hermosillo, Mexico."
There are many ways that businesses and community organizations can be involved. Recently The Loft Cinema held a special free screening of Hector and the Search for Happiness and other organizations are looking at how their employees can celebrate the Day of Happiness. "We are an inclusive group and open to any ideas about how folks would like to showcase The International Day of Happiness at their business,”says Fonte. “All community members are welcome to participate in the planning and development of Do Happy Today. If you are interested in being a part of DHT, please contact me at Community Renaissance, 520.331-5582 or visit us on Facebook. Do Happy Today can be a way of becoming happier, healthier and stronger individuals, neighborhoods, businesses, and communities.”
Any local business that has an interest in seeing greater community happiness can become involved with DHT, whether it’s promoting a single event or initiative on March 20th or becoming part of the larger discussion about creating long term change in the community. DHT will be promoting all Day of Happiness events as part of its initiative including a public proclamation downtown, festivities at Maker House and many more.