Tag Archives: Pharrell

Happy International Day of Happiness to all!

The United Nations has chosen special days to celebrate all small parts of life. There is a World Radio Day (13 February). An International Day of Forests and the Tree (21 March). The UN calendar also marks something called Vesak, or the Day of the Full Moon in Buddhist traditions.

And since 2012, we finally have a UN International Day of Happiness.

The decision to establish an International Day of Happiness has been set out in a formal UN resolution. As the laws of diplomacy-speak require, the text is somewhat swollen (“conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental goal just means: everybody would like to be happy), the text is quite short.

The text recognises the need for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication and the well-being of all peoples“. Music to my ears, as I’m convinced that governments have a role to play via well-being policies.

20 March was chosen, because on this day, the sun is on the same plane as the earth’s equator. Day and night are of equal length, creating balance in the earth’s celestial coordinate systems. The idea to have an international day of happiness was raised by Bhutan, which bases its policies on the concept of Gross National Happiness.

Though these days can be criticised (should I only care about women on 8 March), it can be a good way to raise awareness and let people think of their own happiness. In a way, the UN recognition is the culmination of years of work that have been done to convince states and international organisation to take happiness seriously. It builds upon Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, but also on comparable initiatives by France, the UK, the EU and the OECD.

Happiness to the People!

But enough about official celebration. This is a day for the people.

The last months many of our days have been lightened up by the hymn of happiness. Last November, you might have seen the 24 video clip on his website. It is amazing to see how big the song has become since. As I wrote about before, the idea has been taken aboard by people all around the globe, who’ve created their own versions.

Tomorrow, the song will be everywhere. Pharrell teamed up with the UN for another ’24 hours of Happy’, based on videos submitted all around the world.

Watch this page tomorrow to celebrate the International Day of Happiness!

But for now, some of the local versions:

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

I’ve been hoping for a guest appearance of my friend, alas!

Brussels, Belgium

My very own host city has at least ten versions on youtube. This one seems the funniest:


Vilnius, Lithuania

People in Vilnius aren’t as glum as the word has it!


Tahiti seems the happiest place of all! I need a holiday now…

The special power of music

In some ways, I’m old-fashioned, and I do take some pride in it. In my house, I have a historic artifact that was very popular in the end of the late 20th century but has declined ever since. I possess a CD player.

Of course I know that you can access any song any time through YouTube or iTunes, and that the storage space of an iPod or any other MP3 player is virtually endless. But it’s not the same. To me, CDs, and books alike, are more than .m4a or .epub files.

CDs are media with a soul. They are like friends who are accompanying me during my journey through life. When I select one of my CD’s, take it out of its case and put in my CD player, it’s an experience that goes way beyond pushing a play button in iTunes. I remind myself of the place and time where I bought it, the friend who gave it to me or what the band or singer means to me.

My passion must be hereditary: my father has at least 1,000 of CD’s, and counting. His collection now encompasses everything, from classical music to jazz and 1970s pop to country. Surprisingly, I discovered music very late. If we neglect my embarrassing purchase of ‘Smurfs House’ when in the 1990s Dutch house music was conquering the world, and the Krezip single ‘I would stay’ I sent to my three-day summer love at 15, I only bought my first CD at 16. It was Parachutes, the first album of a new band called Coldplay I had read about in a magazine.

Special tones and vibes

Music does something special to people.

How it exactly works I don’t know, but music creates ‘vibes’, a sense of ‘cosiness’,  goosebumps at times.

Melodies and sounds form a key to joy. Or to sadness, or any other emotion. Music can help to be happy, to be creative, to get through boring activities like doing the dishes or ironing shirts, push you up a steep hill when you are running.

What are the songs that make me happiest? It probably varies from time to time, but at the moment they’re mostly energetic songs with a good dose of electronics. Some of my current favourites:

To bring a smile to my face

I can’t believe anybody can be grumpy seeing the clip of Gramatik’s Hit That Jive! Or in the same electro-swing mood: Parov Stelar’s Booty Swing, with a guest appearance from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

To energise me.

I like to listen to one of the tracks of Peter and the Magician to get me going when I am lazy. The energy motivates me to do things around the house or do some writing. Django Django is also a good one in this category, also for a late afternoon when I’m alone in my office.

To listen in awe.

Anything from Daft Punk’s latest album will do. Giorgio by Morodor is one of my favourites but the entire album is awesome.

The ultimate happy song

And of course, this list is not complete without Pharrell’s Happy, one of the ultimate happy songs. And the cool thing is that it’s become a lot than a song. Last November, Pharrell made a 24-hour video clip. People in cities from Amsterdam to Cotonou (Benin) made their own versions. And the last days, the Flappy Bird version is conquering the internet.

And which songs do make you happy?