Today, March 20, is International Day of Happiness, a day to celebrate and spread positivity and joy in your little world and ultimately, around the world. It is a day to deliberately remember that happiness is contagious, and that your happiness, expressed in even the smallest of ways, has the power to make a big difference.
In 2011, the United Nations made this day the official International Day of Happiness, noting happiness as a “fundamental human goal” in their resolution.
The plan is simple: share the word about #InternationalDayofHappiness and then do what makes you happy.
Doing what makes you happy seems like a simple and uncomplicated directive. But what, specifically, are those things? At the end of the day, what exactly does happiness look like?
Happiness and Signature Strengths
On my bookshelf reside multiple books on the topic of happiness and gratitude, but my favorite is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. His premise is that it’s not success which makes you happy, but happiness which makes you successful.
One of the key ways of contributing to a person’s happiness is through our signature strengths.
Achor writes, “each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity. If you find yourself in need of a happiness booster, revisit a talent you haven’t used in a while…Even more fulfilling than using a skill, though, is exercising a strength of character, a trait that is deeply embedded in who we are.”
Naming these essential parts of our character, these “signature strengths”, and then incorporating them in different ways in our lives, have the potential to produce awesomeness. “Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.”
What might those signature strengths be, and how can you figure out yours? Head over to Via Institute on Character and take the survey for free. Out of the top “24 cross-cultural character strengths that most contribute to human flourishing”, you can discover your top five. (My top three are love of learning, appreciation of beauty and excellence, and curiosity — which explains the fascination of Florence.)
Furthermore, Achor notes that when a group of nearly 600 volunteers “were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups.”
Fill my week with more concrete and deliberate experiences of love of learning, appreciation of beauty and excellence, and curiosity? Yes please!
Thinking about my signature strengths inspired me to create list of how to fill my days with specific experiences of these strengths. Practicing Italian, reading and even doing an internet search on a favorite topic hit my love of learning; visiting an art museum, browsing travel blogs or even just sipping a well-crafted cup of coffee in a pretty environment add to my appreciation of beauty and excellence; my curiosity can be fed in a number of ways, an easy one being a trip to the library or bookstore, even if I come home empty-handed.
Need inspiration on your signature strengths in action? Check out this article from Via Character, which lists examples for all 24 of their identified character strengths, and let the human flourishing begin!