If a stranger walks up and hands you a balloon this Friday, don’t worry, be happy.
A group of activists plan to fan out across the city on March 20 to participate in the ‘Happiness Challenge.’
They’ll distribute free coffees, give up good parking spots and ask people about their day – then actually listen to the answer.
It’s all meant to make you smile, because if you feel a little joy yourself you might just pass it on, says Sarnia’s Teresa Guerette.
“I got the idea after hearing about the International Day of Happiness at a conference last year, and I thought, ‘we’ve got to bring this to Sarnia,’” she said.
“Right now, people are done with winter, and winter is a time that’s depressing for so many.”
The challenge itself is simple: how many people can you make smile in a day?
Such things come easily for Guerette, an emergency room nurse at McLaren Port Huron Hospital. She takes cookies to neighbours and lets others jump in line ahead of her. Random acts of kindness come with their own reward, she said.
“The biggest thing is challenging yourself, because giving of yourself is what really makes you happy.”
Guerette will be joined Friday by other members of the Sarnia Healing Rooms, a non-denominational Christian group.
Research has found that connections with other people are fundamental to personal happiness.
But there are other ways to activate it, Guerette said. They include spending time doing the things you love to do, choosing to have a positive outlook, and practicing gratitude by listing things you’re thankful for.
“Yes, you need to have basic needs met to have happiness, but it’s so much more than that.”
The United Nations declared March 20 the International Day of Happiness in 2012 and the first events were held the following year. All 193 UN member states have adopted a resolution giving happiness greater priority.
Canada, by the way, stood 6th on the most recent world happiness ranking.
Denmark, Norway and Switzerland led the pack, while the U.S. was 17th.
For more on the International Day of Happiness visit http://www.un.org/en/events/happinessday/