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Something’s Up with #HAPPYDAY

International Day of Happiness, UN

Liz Kasameyer

Carly Andrews - published on 03/20/14

On International Day of Happiness Pharrell doesn't quite grasp it.

Happy International Day of Happiness! Apparently. Thursday 20 March has been named by the UN Foundation as a world day of happiness. Now in its second year, this time round they mean business, with campaign, celebrity and more.

The Foundation even has its own pop song to back it up: “Happy” sung by Pharrell Williams. The superstar promotes the Happy Campaign with various other video versions of the song, showing people around the world jumping around merrily and waving their arms around

Here is the New York version:

On the face of it, it seems like a great idea; we all want to be happy in a world where there is so much suffering.

I personally really like it when I’m happy. 

But just take a look at the words:

It might seem crazy what I’m ’bout to say

Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break

I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space

With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

Here come bad news talking this and that (Yeah!)

Well, give me all you got, don’t hold it back (Yeah!)

Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine (Yeah!)

No offense to you don’t waste your time, here’s why…

Bring me down

Can’t nothing bring me down

My level’s too high to bring me down

Can’t nothing bring me down, I said…

Mmmm. The video may pull a laugh, but I have to admit, it is hardly inspiring stuff; particularly as a song promoting a world day of happiness.

Yes dancing around and pulling silly faces is lots of fun. I’ve done it many-a-time in my life, and had a blast. However I can’t help thinking that they have missed a little something here; well, actually something rather fundamental, about what happiness really is, and how it is achieved.  

The website too, talks about how important it is to be happy; they make the valid point about it not being achieved through consumerism; there are lots of studies and surveys and tips for being happy in your life etc. etc. but again, there is nothing on it that makes me think; Yes! They’ve got it! This is true happiness…this is what I am really seeking in my life!

Happiness as something more

Now, I’m no expert theologian so I am not going to attempt to enter into an in-depth discussion about the meaning of the nature of happiness. Besides, St Thomas Aquinas already does a pretty good job of it, which you can find here.

What I will do however, on this “International Day of Happiness”, is turn to a few words expressed by some truly amazing people that touch on the subject, which – in my own little journey of faith – I have found to be deeply inspiring.


Blessed (nearly saint) John Paul II 

People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. True joy is a victory, something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati(in a letter to his sister Luciana)

You ask me if I am joyful; and how could I be otherwise? Seeing as Faith will give me the strength always to rejoice! Every Catholic can’t help but be joyful. Sadness should be banished from their souls. Suffering is not sadness, which is the worst disease.  This disease is almost always caused by atheism, but the end for which we are created guides us along life’s pathway, which may be strewn with thorns, but is not sad. It is happy even through suffering.

St Thomas Aquinas

Happiness is the attainment of the Perfect Good.

St Teresa of Avila

Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

It seems to me that the happiness of a soul consists entirely in conforming to the most adorable Will of God; for in so doing the heart finds peace and the spirit joy and repose, since he "who is joined to the Lord in one spirit" with Him. (1 Cor. 6:17).

and again…

My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed Sacrament, where my heart is, as it were, in Its centre.

St. Claude de la Colombière

Understand what the will of the Lord is, so that doing it you may receive the promise, that is to say eternal happiness, for it is written the world with its lust is passing away, but he who does the will of God abides forever." 

St. Paul of the Cross

Happy the heart that keeps itself on the cross, in the arms of the Well-Beloved, and that burns only with divine love!

St. Vincent de Paul

It is God Himself who receives what we give in charity, and is it not an incomparable happiness to give Him what belongs to Him, and what we have received from His goodness alone?

Mother Teresa

Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

Psalms 16:11

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

And the last but my no means the least, Mary Queen of Heaven

My soul glorifies the Lord, *

my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her lowliness; *

henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

The Almighty works marvels for me. *

Holy his name!

His mercy is from age to age, *

on those who fear him.

He puts forth his arm in strength *

and scatters the proud-hearted.

He casts the mighty from their thrones *

and raises the lowly.

He fills the starving with good things, *

sends the rich away empty.

He protects Israel, his servant, *

remembering his mercy,

the mercy promised to our fathers, *

to Abraham and his sons for ever.


In my own (very small) experience, I have found that my glimpses of profound happiness have been in those terrifying but remoulding moments when, after the habit of prayer finally takes hold, I have been confronted with an awareness of my own failings, which has plunged me into the abyss of nothingness; a place of complete terror; but from which I see before me the light of life in the figure of Jesus Christ.

Then, in letting go my hollow shell of a being – in opening my heart in utter abandonment to the Lord – through His grace He brings me into life in Him; a union in the Holy Trinity.

And in losing myself in this profound interpenetration, I feel myself entering into a true living self, a true personal identity in Christ; true freedom, true love, true happiness.

My heart is burned with His love. My spirit soars free.

I live inasmuch as I live in relation to Him, inasmuch as I life for Him, and by consequence, for my fellow brothers and sisters. 

Such Joy! Such blissful happiness!

But why oh why can’t I stay in this state always?!  As St Paul says: "I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate……. the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want – that is what I do."  [Romans 7:15-19]

But thankfully, he also has the answer: "[it is] about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me; and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ’s sake, For it is when I am weak that I am strong". [2 Corinthians 12: 9-10] 

On this International Day of Happiness, my bet’s on Christ.

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