Oh no, I missed International Happiness Day.

Not sure why. I guess I was doing stuff. Being tired. I forgot to stop and think.

Anyway, International Happiness Day is March 20. And this year, Denmark is officially the happiest country in the world.

Bhutan didn’t make the list this year, but it used to be the happiest country in Asia—demonstrating that being a happy country wasn’t necessarily about being ‘rich’. It is a small landlocked country south of the Himalayas—with a small population (less than 1,000,000) and large forest areas (72%) that make it almost carbon neutral.

One other cool thing about Bhutan is that it prioritises a Gross National Happiness index—an alternative to economic measures of wellbeing, such as a country’s gross domestic product.

The index is defined by 4 pillars: political, economic, cultural and environmental. Within these, it drills down into the day-to-day lives of its citizens in 9 domains:

  • psychological wellbeing
  • health
  • leisure time
  • education
  • cultural diversity and resilience
  • community strength
  • good governance—including democracy, public services and perceptions of the government
  • environment—both resilience to natural disasters and perceptions of being environmentally friendly
  • living standards

In the second survey of the gross national happiness index across these categories, 43.4% of people in Bhutan rated themselves as being ‘deeply or extensively happy’—an increase over the first survey in 2010.

What defines happiness to you?

Fifteen years ago for me, it was freedom. Five years ago, it was a promotion or wanting to go overseas. Last year, with sickness, full-time work and a toddler, it was getting through the day without feeling (too) faint.

Now, it’s about coming home after a long day. Sleeping in until 6am on the weekend. Having a clean floor. Eating some chips.

Still no overseas, no fancy job and a permanently messy floor (how does such a small person make so much chaos?)

But, mostly, that’s ok.

And apparently, being happy is all about the little things—and not thinking too much.

So Happy Happiness Day. Be kind to yourself (and each other).