Happy International Day of Happiness! The United Nations celebrated this day for the first time in 2013, after passing a resolution decreeing every March 20 from that point on as “International Day of Happiness.”
The UN published a guidebook titled “Great Dream,” with 10 keys to happiness listed and explained. The title functions as an acrostic poem, as well:
So in the spirit of being happy and spreading happiness, here are 10 ways for you to take these keys (s/o DJ Khaled) and be inspired by our city.
1. Giving: Doing things for others.
Work with people at food pantries or kitchens, like Micah 6 on San Antonio Street. The food pantry opened in 2003, and in 2010, a Statesman writer described a typical day there:
“Fresh fruit, pasta, baby food, frozen ground beef and blueberries, cans of meatballs . The food comes from grocery stores, private donors and the food bank. An hour before the shoppers arrive, the shelves are fully stocked. A minute after they leave, the shelves are all but barren…
…Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable shopping bags, luggage or backpacks to put their groceries in. Less than halfway through the pantry my fellow baggers and I were shouting “Do you have more bags?” By the end of the hour, I was high-fiving shoppers with large duffle bags. One man with a gray beard and a hat pushed away a plastic bag as I started to bag his produce.”
2. Relating: Connect with people.
One of the “Action Ideas” the UN gives is to make three new connections today. Austin’s coffee shop, bar and restaurant scene offers many opportunities to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Or, if there are people in your life you haven’t spoken to in a while, grab a meal together and catch up. There’s always our list of Austin’s best restaurants to choose from.
3. Exercising: Take care of your body
Travis County is the ninth healthiest county in Texas, out of 241 counties ranked. There are so many opportunities for Austinites to get moving, and one of them is the Statesman Cap10k, on April 10. We also have some places for you to check out for training tips before the big day.
4. Awareness: Live life mindfully
What better way to get in touch with yourself than yoga? Austin’s favorite yoga teachers want you to be healthy in body and soul. Giaconda Parker, pictured below, teaches at Practice Yoga, BFree Yoga, Castle Hill Yoga and Wanderlust. “Yoga is the art of becoming who you truly are,” she says. “The practice of yoga is the opportunity to get to know all aspects of ourselves — our humanity and our divinity. Yoga’s the meeting place of the two.”
5. Trying out: Keep learning new things
Austin is full of family-friendly events with things everyone can learn from! Our resident parenting writer Nicole Villalpando put together a list of all the events you can take your kids to in April. But if you’re 21 and looking for an adults-only learning experience, check out Thinkery 21’s next event on April 7 that teaches you how you rely on your senses.
6. Direction: Have goals to look forward to
Feeling good about our future is important for our happiness, the UN says. Finding a direction in life can be difficult, but passion and determination helps. One local has an extremely concrete goal: get back into the triathalon circuit. Triathlete Laurie Allen was paralyzed in 2015, but she fully intends on competing again. In a February article, our Fit City writer Pam LeBlanc writes,
“[S]he’ll focus on looking forward. She needs to order that hand cycle and racing wheelchair. She’s been volunteering at packet pickup and in the transition area of local triathlons, but she wants to get back on the course as an athlete.
“‘I’m trying to find peace with where I am every day,’ she says.”
7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back.
Take a moment to do something you enjoy. Maybe you’ve committed yourself to the adult coloring book movement, or keep making your own bitters to add to your homemade drinks ingredient collection, but have something you can turn to when you’re stressed or feeling down.
8. Emotions: Look for what’s good
The UN suggests, “Do something that you know will make you feel good.” Dancing barista knows what’s up.
9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
Body positivity isn’t the only factor of liking yourself, but it’s an important one. Minneapolis rapper Lizzo performed a self-love, positivity-focused set at South by Southwest this week, Eric Webb writes.
“Lizzo’s show revolves around self-love and body positivity. Her full-figured backup dancers are called The Big Girls. Her “Superfreak”/”Snap Yo Fingers”-referencing “En Love,” an ode in part to what she sees in the mirror, takes a clever twist for self-esteem within the first few bars. The rapper’s victory for representation is all the more well-delivered for the fact that she’s just a damn good performer.”
10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger
Be a part of a community. There are definitely more things you could be involved with than the 127 organizations listed on Austin City Links, but Pets Alive and Austin Film Society are just two examples of key organizations in Austin.