Celebrate International Day of Happiness 2016 with inspiration from Austin

happinessHappy 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:

Photo via United Nations

Photo via United Nations

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.

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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.”

04-10-10 Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN       Micah 6 is a food pantry at University Presbyterian Church where recipients can get groceries one time a week, on either Thursday or Saturday.  Beth Gleason leads volunteers  in a prayer in the hallway before the pantry opens to the recipients on Saturday. Recipients can fill up one hand held basket with groceries such as fresh produce, bread, frozen meat, canned goods and cereal and other staples.  Lauren Fogleson, left and Austin Cavanaugh, right, go through the pantry filling their baskets as they go. 0421foodpantry TIA10 TIA Community Services

Micah 6 is a food pantry at University Presbyterian Church where recipients can get groceries one time a week, on either Thursday or Saturday. Beth Gleason leads volunteers in a prayer in the hallway before the pantry opens to the recipients on Saturday. Recipients can fill up one hand held basket with groceries such as fresh produce, bread, frozen meat, canned goods and cereal and other staples. Lauren Fogleson, left and Austin Cavanaugh, right, go through the pantry filling their baskets as they go. Photo by Laura Skelding

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.

Cynthia Leitich Smith, right, and her friend Shana Burg, left, are authors, and can often be found at Upper Crust Bakery working at one of the tables over coffee, breakfast or lunch.  RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Cynthia Leitich Smith, right, and her friend Shana Burg, left, are authors, and can often be found at Upper Crust Bakery working at one of the tables over coffee, breakfast or lunch. Photo by Ralph Barrera

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.

The 38th annual Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10K footrace was held through the streets of Austin, TX under foggy skies and a slight drizzle Sunday morning April 12, 2015. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The 38th annual Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10K footrace was held through the streets of Austin, TX under foggy skies and a slight drizzle Sunday morning April 12, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera

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.”

Yoga instructor Giaconda Parker practices yoga in her favorite restaurant, The Steeping Room, while patrons Henry Claypool, left, Joseph Henry, center, and Lina Fisher, right, enjoy their meals on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2013. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Yoga instructor Giaconda Parker practices yoga in her favorite restaurant, The Steeping Room, while patrons Henry Claypool, left, Joseph Henry, center, and Lina Fisher, right, enjoy their meals on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2013. Photo by Ashley Landis

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.

Chris Palady, left, and Andrew Hammond, 9, watch the pendulum swing at the Thinkery exhibit at Sx Create at the Long Center on Sunday, March 15, 2015. This free SXSW event highlighted new technology and science based activities. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Chris Palady, left, and Andrew Hammond, 9, watch the pendulum swing at the Thinkery exhibit at Sx Create at the Long Center on Sunday, March 15, 2015. This free SXSW event highlighted new technology and science based activities. Photo by Deborah Cannon

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.”

Laurie Allen is elated while working out at the Town Lake YMCA on Saturday January 30, 2016.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Laurie Allen is elated while working out at the Town Lake YMCA on Saturday January 30, 2016. Photo by Jay Janner

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.

Christine Walczyk, Leah Urtado and Angela Mantia (l-r) color at Gourdough's. MindCanvis Publishing co-founders Enrique Macias and Carlos Gonzalez hosted a coloring book meet-up for adults at Gourdough's Public House Wednesday, December 16, 2015. This popular trend has swept over Austin, and hundreds of people RSVP'd for this event.  LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Christine Walczyk, Leah Urtado and Angela Mantia (l-r) color at Gourdough’s. MindCanvis Publishing co-founders Enrique Macias and Carlos Gonzalez hosted a coloring book meet-up for adults at Gourdough’s Public House Wednesday, December 16, 2015. This popular trend has swept over Austin, and hundreds of people RSVP’d for this event. Photo by Laura Skelding

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.”

Lizzo performs at South by Southwest on March 19, 2016 at Brazos Hall. Photo by Eric Webb

Lizzo performs at South by Southwest on March 19, 2016 at Brazos Hall. Photo by Eric Webb

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.

USE THIS PHOTO-------------------Mia Boyer, 5, is still getting the hang of holding kittens since Lady is only her second ever. "She was trying to find me," explains Boyer as to why she chose Lady to hold at the Austin Pets Alive Christmas in July Cat Adoption Fair at the Petco Hancock Center on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Austin Pets Alive usually hosts such events on a monthly basis in various locations but has been prevented from doing so this season by the spread of ringworm. All kittens and cats put up for adoption are disease-free and have been spaed or neutered. Adoptions of kittens cost approximately $125.  7/26/2014 Martin do Nascimento/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Mia Boyer, 5, is still getting the hang of holding kittens since Lady is only her second ever. “She was trying to find me,” explains Boyer as to why she chose Lady to hold at the Austin Pets Alive Christmas in July Cat Adoption Fair at the Petco Hancock Center on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Photo by Martin do Nascimento


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