by Kathi Szabo

Sunday, March 20 is International Day of Happiness, a day set aside by the UN to celebrate Happiness across the globe.

But many of us may be wondering, “How do we celebrate happiness when there is so much violence, destruction, and despair happening right now?”

And it’s not just in Ukraine. Yes, Ukraine is a terrible situation and many like me are struggling to keep believing and trusting in the Universe. But I know losing hope would not help anyone.

Besides Ukraine, what about those who suffer every day? Those that rarely feel the emotion of happiness. People that great each day with a thought of when will this pain and suffering end.

Those that suffer from depression.

Depression is the #1 cause of disability in the United States among 15-44-year-olds, according to the National Network of Depression Centers. Imagine that. Being in the prime of your life and your feelings of worthlessness have so much control, you are deemed disabled. Unable to live your life. Unable to feel Happiness.

However, 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in symptoms in just four to six weeks. But yet, only 33% of those with depression actually seek treatment. There is still a stigma on getting help for mental illness. This leads millions of adults to never experience feelings of happiness.

Yet here we have a day created to celebrate this emotion. This feeling that many find beyond their reach.

How do we celebrate happiness knowing so many others are in a dark place. They are feeling emotions much stronger than our experiences of sadness?

It’s a great question. But we cannot put our lives or our emotions at bay as we watch a loved one further isolate or sink deeper into depression.

Yet it may seem selfish to go about being Happy, celebrating our joys and life’s milestones.

We all have a happiness set point.

Some research shows that 50% of our happiness is genetics. Another 10% of our happiness is external (the reason why things don’t make us truly happy for very long). And then 40% of happiness is “intentional activity.” That activity we choose to take.

When a person is depressed, they may already be starting with a low happiness set point. When you add on their depression, their feelings of happiness are null.

So back to the question, how to celebrate our own happiness when so many others are suffering from depression or are living in the turmoil happening in the world right now?

We must take action.

That intentional activity that can help determine that natural set point can include compassionate actions to help others. Spreading kindness, giving to charities that are helping those unable to experience happiness right now, listening to a loved one. All these intentional actions can help bring more happiness into the world. It may not bring immediate bursts of joy, but if we spread our happiness, surely that energy must find its way to help those suffering.

So tomorrow, on this year’s International Day of Happiness 2022, I will be spreading kindness. I will give to a charity to help those suffering from depression. And I will be there for those in my life who currently struggle with finding any happiness.

It is especially important that in the darkest of days, we find a way to shine some light, to bring a small sense of happiness to those in suffering.

If you feel inclined to give, here are some wonderful organizations trying to make the world a bit brighter.

National Network of Depression Centers

National Suicide Prevention LifeLine

GEM – Global Empowerment Mission

World Central Kitchen