“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” – Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen
Happiness is the ultimate goal for many, but the definition of such a state varies with each individual. Your mental picture of perfect happiness is likely very different than your best friend’s. The pursuit of happiness, however, may be easier to pin down.
In honor of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13th was declared the national Pursuit of Happiness Day. April 13th also kicks off Sustainable Happiness Week, which ends on earth day, April 22nd.
This initiative is especially geared towards university students.
Unfortunately, this is because of the distressing rise of emotional concerns on college campuses. The past three years have seen a dramatic increase in depression and suicide on college campuses, including our own. An article in The New York Times claims that the 2010 freshman class had one of the highest levels of stress on record. And our very own Falcon reported a drastic spike in “mental health issues” on the SPU campus in 2010-2011, including four suicide attempts. Obviously, the college environment is not the happiest right now.
Sustainable Happiness Week aims to improve those statistics by increasing individual and communal happiness levels. Though the notion of happiness does differ from person to person, there are still some key identifying factors that are in play.
One goal for this week is to get people to examine and converse about the top ten domains of happiness: financial security, time balance, environmental quality, education, access to arts and culture, social connection, confidence in government, physical health, mental health, and work satisfaction. All of these areas combined contribute to an individual’s overall level of happiness.
To start Sustainable Happiness Week, try these daily practices that Happiness Counts offers to increase happiness. We encourage you to try them out every day this week, and comment about your experience.
- Sit silently for 5 minutes every day. This means no phone, no internet, no television, no distractions. Think of it as a practice in meditation. Focus on your thoughts and your breathing, not judging either, but just being.
- List 5 things you are thankful for every night before you go to bed and/or right as you wake up.
- Give small acts of kindness every day, and make sure receivers know you are the one giving it.
Through these exercises, we hope to make you personal path to happiness a bit smoother. Though they might not fit into your mental ideal of perfect happiness, they can help you get there.
Although we explained a bit about happiness in another post, in honor of Sustainable Happiness Week we will be posting daily tips and facts centering around the ten domains happiness, starting Monday April 15th. Check back in for our post on Happiness and Relationships.