Mon, 06 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

The path to gross domestic happiness

6 March 2021 02:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Spirituality tells us that we could be happy only when we make other people happy. Our care for others is the measure of our greatness. If we are selfish or self-centred and seeking our own happiness or joy, it often turns out to be an act of self-deception. We damage ourselves and our spiritual journey. Therefore, we need to be internally transformed from being self-centred to be other centred. If we live for our personal gain or glory and use or abuse others for our personal benefit, we will suffer the consequences of sorrow and misery.  Often generosity is a sign that we are genuine because it is more blessed to give than to receive. That is because when we give we receive double the measure, shaken together and press down to make room for more. 


Such and similar reflections come to mind as we mark the United Nations Day of Happiness later this month. In a statement, the UN says that since 2013 the world body has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. 


In 2015, the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness. 


The UN invites people of any age, plus every classroom, business and government to join in the celebration of the International Day of Happiness.


In 2021, the UN General Assembly in a resolution proclaimed March 20 as the International Day of Happiness, recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. 


It also recognized the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth—a policy that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all people.


The resolution was initiated by Bhutan, a small country that recognizes the value of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product. 


It also hosted a High-Level Meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” during the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly.


In 2019 Sri Lanka was ranked far down at 130 in terms of gross national happiness. Since then we may have fallen further. 


World religious leaders also have said that poverty alleviation through a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources and active involvement in the battle against climate change will bring about gross domestic happiness for all people. 


At present, the world’s ten super billionaires are known to control more than 60 per cent of the world’s wealth and resources. Such injustice obviously cannot bring happiness because it is a tragedy where billionaires build  bigger barns or bank accounts to hoard their wealth while millions of families do not have money to provide the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and education to the children. 


Next to poverty alleviation, the world’s most important issue is the battle against climate change. If urgent and effective action is not taken, social analysts have warned that by 2040 many islands will be submerged because of rising sea-levels. These include our neighbouring Maldive islands and some South Pacific islands while Sri Lanka itself will lose a large part of its coastlands. 


Sincere, selfless and sacrificial service to the country and other people is the path to Gross Domestic Happiness and there is no other way. We need to commit ourselves to work for a just and fair society that will eventually bring about a just and fair world where we will not need weapons of war for armed conflicts and where we could also bring about nuclear disarmament. 

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