In 2013, the United Nations declared March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I have set out to find a universal symbol of happiness. What I am looking for is something that makes people happy, regardless of their nationality, culture, religious beliefs, or political affiliation. I need your help with this task. Please vote for the image that is most likely to evoke happiness in you.
Here are your choices:
1. Bubbles. Everyone loves bubbles. The sight of someone blowing bubbles tends to fill our hearts with delight. I have met a few people who have made this their spiritual practice. Every day, they go to a nearby park or beach and release giant bubbles into the air, just for the fun of it.
2. Rainbows. There is an undeniable thrill when you spot a rainbow. A double rainbow is even better. As a scientific phenomenon, rainbows are fascinating. But you do not need to know a thing about the science of rainbows to feel a sense of wonder at the sight of one.
3. Laughter. Nothing is more infectious—or mysterious. Why do people laugh? What is it that causes this rhythmic expulsion of breath? Certainly, there are other ways to respond to a humorous or amusing situation. But spontaneous laughter is such a joyful release.
4. Sun. What is more beautiful or awe-inspiring than a sunrise or sunset? When the sun peeks out from behind a cloud, it can be exhilarating. And seeing rays of sunlight filtered by clouds can feel like you are looking at a religious painting.
5. Play. The UN website for the International Day of Happiness features pictures of children playing. Could this be the ultimate symbol of happiness? You just feel better when you watch the playful spirit turned loose.
6. Fire. Have you ever spent hours staring at a fire? Something about it is so compelling. The warmth and light are irresistible. And fire connects us with something basic, earthy, and primal in ourselves.
7. Smiles. In 1963, an insurance company employee named Harvey Ball came up with the now-famous smiley face. He did it to raise morale among his employees. The company paid him $45 for this image, which took him 10 minutes to design. Today, the smiley face has spawned thousands of different emoticons, all of which are intended to convey a sense of happiness.
8, Beaches. What do you feel when you see a picture of a beautiful beach? Do you imagine the joy, relaxation and luxury you might experience there? If you are like most people, the very idea of a beach vacation can trigger feelings of excitement and happiness. Knowing that someone else is spending time at the beach without you might make you feel a bit jealous, too.
9. Kisses. The idea of two people sharing a passionate kiss can make you feel warm and tingly inside. That is a very good thing! A kiss is an expression of pure love, whether it be a grandparent kissing a child, old friends greeting when reunited, or the romantic bond between two lovers. Kisses make us happy, which is why Hershey’s had the brilliant idea of naming its chocolates after this most rewarding pastime.
10. Mountains. Why is a mountain view so desirable that people will pay top dollar for it? When you look at mountains, you tend to feel good. A snow-covered peak can seem majestic, awesome, and breathtakingly beautiful. Few sights are more inspiring.
11. Moving water. Who doesn’t love waterfalls, fountains, ocean waves, or ripples on a pond? The gentle trickle of a stream can be soothing, whereas the power of a raging river can be exhilarating. In any case, watching the movement of water never gets old.
12. Light shows. How do you celebrate festive occasions? If you are like most of us, you light candles, adorn your house with holiday lights, or set off fireworks. Light shows are a sign of intense and profound happiness.
13. Flowers. Nothing warms the heart like the sight of flowers, whether it be the beautiful arrangement of a floral bouquet or the vibrancy and color of a spring wildflower display. Painters like Monet and Van Gogh have found their greatest inspiration in depicting the magnificence of flowers in bloom.
If you had to choose just one of these 13 icons to convey happiness on a global scale, which would it be? Please post your choice in the Comments section below. And feel free to share the reason for your choice. In the meantime, I want to wish you a very happy spring equinox and a most inspiring International Day of Happiness!