|All smiles: Children in a mountianous commune in Yen Bai Province enjoy play time after school. — VNS Photo Thao Lu
by Nguyen Khanh Chi
HA NOI (VNS) — Dang Quang Tuan expected a heavy day yesterday after having an argument with his wife before going to the office. But things turned out fine when he found out that March 20 had been declared World Happiness Day.
"My colleagues told me about the event, the first ever to be celebrated in Viet Nam. Their talk about happiness woke me from negative thoughts running through my head," said the 40-year-old Hanoian.
"My mind became restful after I messaged my wife, saying ‘sorry', promising it would never happen again," he said, reminding himself that she was his happiness.
Like many countries around the world Viet Nam was celebrating what is officially known as the International Day of Happiness. It was set aside by the United Nations, which decided that happiness was a fundamental human goal.
The celebrations warmed up with a grand ceremony under the theme Love and Sharing at Ha Noi Opera House yesterday morning.
"March 20 is a special day. The sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. And on the equinox, the Earth and the Sun are in perfect balance and harmony," Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told the audience, which included senior government officials.
"We celebrate this day to wish for a world of peace, no war, co-operation and prosperity. No matter what colour and religion they are, people around the world deserve to enjoy full happiness.
"Happiness is not just to cherish and be cherished. It's also a smile of happiness when sportsmen earn medals or farmers yield a bumper crop, or a moment of love after sulking," said the deputy PM.
"President Ho Chi Minh said an independent country would be nothing if its people were not happy and free and did not enjoy a strong material and healthy spiritual life."
Dam said that Viet Nam had held onto the motto "independence, freedom and happiness" since declaring independence from the French on September 2, 1945.
Student Pham Thi Thuy, who joined in the event with many schoolmates, said it was necessary to have "a day like this".
"It reminds everyone of happiness and urges them to reflect on whether their families and communities have been happy," said the freshman from Ha Noi Tourism College.
"In my opinion, happiness is to create and bring joy. I have got what I wished for. I passed the university entrance exam and have a scholarship after the very first term. All my efforts have paid off.
"I also join school volunteers in organising games for children, helping people in need, and picking up rubbish in public places during festivals. I am so happy being able to perform such meaningful deeds. I am so happy to have many siblings," she said.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to celebrate happiness and encourage people around the world to focus on and share things that make them happy.
The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan, a country whose citizens are considered to be among the happiest in the world. The Himalayan kingdom champions an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH).
"Bhutan celebrated the International Day of Happiness today by offering a thousand butter lamps at the National Memorial Chorten (stupa) in Thimphu, the capital " said Kesang Dema from Thimphu, Bhutan.
"A major seminar on happiness is also being held, which will go on for two days. On Facebook and Twitter, many Bhutanese are wishing everyone happiness through various posts," added Dema.
"I am proud to be Bhutanese. The happiness approach means that we maintain human values while pursuing economic development."
However, the former journalist for the national Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel said that a lot still needed to be done in her country.
"While we talk of happiness, there are families finding it difficult to make ends meet. We must also provide an environment that will enable them to have their share of happiness as well," Dema said.
"But all in all, there is still this sense of security and comfort that we share within the family or community. We know for sure, at least for now, that we have not compromised the values in relation to our culture or environment while embracing different manifestations of modernisation." — VNS