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I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
~Groucho Marx

Are you happy?

This fundamental question is one we all ask ourselves at some point in our life.

And it is important.

Because being happy is good for you. You will live longer, have better health, and more easily bounce back from setbacks. People who are happy tend to be more energetic, creative, fun to be around and even more successful.

Happiness is key.

Which is why we are here today to celebrate National Happiness Happens Month (August), a time to encourage happiness and to recognize that at every moment we can choose to be happy.

The History of National Happiness Happens Month

Happiness Happens Month started out as a one-day celebration.

In 1999, the Secret Society of Happy People created “Admit You’re Happy Day” to celebrate the expression of happiness.

The August 8th holiday was based on the premise that happiness is unlimited and contagious: when we are happy and share our happiness with others, we make the world a better place.

In 2000, they changed the name to Happiness Happens Day and expanded it to the entire month of August because members “wanted to let the happy feeling linger a little longer.”

The theme for Happiness Happens Month 2017 is unity, and you can join in by using the hashtag #HappinessUnites.

What Is Happiness Anyway?

Happiness is a broad term that can mean many different things.

According to the field of psychology, “A happy person is someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest and pride and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, and anger.”

Being happy, therefore, does not mean a total absence of negative emotions. However, a happy person will process these feelings in a positive light.

Life’s problems and stresses impact us all. But a happy person will tend to be an optimist, viewing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.

At the end of the day, happiness is a choice.

Instead of waiting for something to happen so we can be happy, we must CHOOSE happiness. The way to do that is to be grateful for all events in our lives, even the ‘bad stuff.’ Another key to happiness is to enjoy the small moments and special people rather than physical possessions.

Finally, happiness is infectious. No man is an island. We all have partners, families, friends and work colleagues with whom we interact daily. If we are happy, it is likely that others around us will feel happier too. By being happy, we have the potential to change other people’s lives.

10 Happiness Guidelines

Here is a list of 10 guidelines to help you achieve more happiness:

  1. Accept: Happiness is based on the ability to welcome life’s situations and uncertainties. Stop worrying about things that are out of your control. Let it go… And accept yourself too!
  2. Connect With People: Build meaningful relationships and find happiness in everything you do.
  3. Be Active: Be involved; explore your passions; LIVE!
  4. Look After Your Body: Eat healthfully, move a lot, and sleep well.
  5. Be Grateful: Instead of focusing on what is missing, always be thankful for what you do have.
  6. Establish Goals: Goals give you something to look forward to and help you feel a sense of achievement.
  7. Be Part of Something Bigger: Spend time with children, join a club or volunteer.
  8. Happy Thoughts: Happiness is all about your way of thinking and what you choose to focus on.
  9. Be Present: Stop dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. Live in the only place you can be—the present.
  10. Pay Attention to the Little Things: Happiness is a result of enjoying the small moments in life that really matter: human connection, nature, good food, and alone time.

How to Celebrate National Happiness Month

Here are some ideas for honoring National Happiness Month:

  • Take stock of your life and reflect upon what makes you happy.
  • Do something nice for yourself—happiness starts with you!
  • Give to others. It could be as simple as offering your seat on the bus to someone else or volunteering. Making other people happy will lift your spirits too!

And since happiness also comes from looking after our health, you can celebrate in the kitchen by trying our Thai Eggplant Stir Fry.

Happy Happiness Happens Month to all!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.