International Day of Happiness: Resources to make you smile every day

Step this way for free happiness and gratitude resources, created by student and educator Lou Robinson.


Sunday 20th March is the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness. The day has been celebrated every year since 2013 to raise awareness of the importance of finding and sharing happiness in life, promoting the Human Rights that underpin this and spreading the importance of these values across the globe.

The day has three main ideas:

  • To share positive messages
  • To encourage everyone to reach out to those in need
  • To raise awareness of crisis appeals/ways we can reach out and help

You can find out more about the UN’s crisis appeals and ways you can support at the dedicated International Day of Happiness website.

With everything going on in the world right now it may feel impossible or even inappropriate to be celebrating a day of happiness but now more than ever – we need to make space in our lives to care for our well-being and that of others.

It can be hard in times like these to find joy in the everyday. Our increasingly interconnected world makes us prone to ‘doom scrolling’ leaving us with a stream of endless news stories and negativity to process. However, I always try to remember back to the last time I took a flight and the cabin crew talked everyone through the importance of fixing your own oxygen mask first. To have the strength to care for others – we must first care for ourselves. So, with that, here are my top happiness boosting tips (with some freebies included!) to help you make the most of International Day of Happiness (and every day that follows!)

Today I am grateful for…

When I first read about ‘finding the joy in every day’ or recording my gratitude, I’ll admit, I let out a long sigh and willed the extra daily task that I didn’t have time for back to its yoga retreat. 

Fast forward a few years and I’m studying KE322 and reading around well-being and I start to pick up on an overwhelming amount of research all suggesting that simply checking in with those everyday moments that we are grateful for can boost not only well-being but relationships, energy levels and grades…and in the final year of my degree I certainly wasn’t going to let the last one past. 

So, I started taking the time to record one good thing each day, even if the only good thing about my day was literally the Nutella, I put on my toast at breakfast…I wrote it down. By the end of the month, I had a whole page of joy I was able to read back over. 

You can have a go at this yourself with our Gratitude Sunshine PDF which can be used either as a printable or paper free on your favourite tablet notetaking app.

You might also prefer to record your ideas on a post it and add them to a gratitude jar. I made the above Lego themed jar while volunteering with a local art group and kept my example, filling it throughout my PGCE year. 

On the days I was so close to giving up, I emptied my jar and I read through mini extracts of the good days, the good feedback, the ‘lightbulb’ moments etc. It was a real game changer for me, a way to reflect each day but also, a resource to call upon in my hour of need.

If you’d like to create your own Jar of Happiness, you can download our jar/lid labels or have fun designing and decorating your own.

Focus on the road ahead

As an OU grad (and student), I know what it’s like. Some days (yesterday in particular for me) you could happily launch the OU books you were so delighted to have delivered out of the nearest window and straight into your recycling bin – never to see them again! OK, maybe that’s just me, but we ALL have bad study days (even the people who don’t talk about them or are seemingly on TMA 684 while you are still reading your module introduction.

One of the best ways of keeping myself motivated past the troughs and happy in my studies is to always keep my goals in mind. That pesky TMA may seem to be dancing in the way of your hopes and dreams but with your focus on those end goals, you’ll likely find you find your fight.

To help you focus your goals we have created a Study Goals template, but you might also like to doodle your own version. Having your goals visible, even just on a post it stuck to your desk/sofa can make those end goals feel more like goals than dreams.

I also love to tick off my assignments as I complete them to see how far I’ve come (in fact, I’m so primary school teacher I stick a gold star on my wall planner for every deadline met). Highly recommend – it’s only March and my calendar is sparkling!

Find (and share) pure joy

I’m not one to hide from the news or current politics but I do try to seek a bit of balance. Our increasingly interconnected world does not have to be a bad thing (despite what the critics will have you believe). It’s all about curating your feed and making your online world a welcoming one.

I subscribe to the Happy Newspaper, read Happiful online and fill my Instagram by following the accounts of people who bring genuine joy to my day.

If I find something special, something that makes me smile/laugh or brings me inspiration – I make sure I share it with others and bring a bit of joy to their day too. 

It can be hard when you’re juggling many different aspects of life to take a moment to just be and enjoy these things – but I know when I am feeling overwhelmed, I must take that moment.

I’m not one for sitting still or practising breathing exercises or generally anything classically sold as ‘mindfulness’, so when life just feels too heavy, I search up the YouTube videos that are IMPOSSIBLE for me to watch back without feeling pure joy.

Need some inspiration? Have three of my favourie cheer-up YouTube videos:

This is a video of a group of 1000 musicians covering a Foo Fighters song in Italy to try and encourage the Foo Fighters to tour there. It’s so amazing to see so many people with a shared passion all gathered in a massive field making music (and it’s even better when you find out – it worked – they took the tour to them!)

I hope you’ve been able to find a little bit of joy in this post and I wish you all the happiest International Day of Happiness (or the happiest of whatever day you happen to be reading this on…and if that day is Friday 25th March – it’s International Waffle Day and this is your encouragement to go and find one because you can’t have a bad day eating a waffle!)


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Lou Robinson

BSc (Hons) Open Degree 2020 PGCE Primary (School Direct) Student 2020/21 Aspiring Primary School Teacher with a keen interest in STEAM and Outdoor Learning.

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