THE BLOG

The Pursuit of Happiness: Why It Can Be a Gift That Keeps on Giving

03/24/2015 03:10 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2015
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The pursuit of happiness was a concept that the United States' founding fathers valued so much they made it a part of the Declaration of Independence from the British Empire. While the idea of the inalienable right of all human beings to pursue happiness is not an exclusively North American one (arguably the idea originated in Greece with the philosopher Epicurus), we must acknowledge that it is rare for any country to really look at the happiness of their citizens as a right.

In fact, the real mover and shaker lately with regard to prioritizing the "pursuit of happiness" is the small Himalayan country of Bhutan. This materially poor country not only determined that national happiness was preferable to national income by adopting the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product in 1972, but also went cross-border with its campaign to have the pursuit of happiness be a universally recognized goal. It is due to this small, but very happy, country that in 2012 the U.N. declared March 20 the International Day of Happiness: a day to celebrate the rights of all individuals to purse happiness in their own lives.

It would be easy at this point to dive into a treatise on what makes people happy or to look at philosophical questions like "is lack of pain happiness," or "how do you measure or quantify if you are happy," etc. But the truth is that most of us just know. We know if we are happy and we know if we aren't. There are contributing factors to this. Do we have access to food, water and shelter? Do we feel physically and economically safe in our everyday lives? Do we have people in our lives that love us and respect us? All of these things can and do affect our general happiness levels, but I would like to propose that there are two things that make us the most happy as human beings: helping others and following our passions.

To be able to step outside of our individual circumstances and voluntarily help someone else brings to each of us a sense of purpose and well-being that is like nothing else. Most of us also have something we are passionate about, but few of us are able to use our skills and talents in pursuit of these interests. Whether you want to be an artist, love to sew, enjoy playing chess, or are passionate about history, there is something you love to do that makes you happy and which you may not be able to do in your day-to-day work. So why not marry the two ways to happiness?

We at WorkerAnts.com have decided to embrace the spirit of International Happiness Day and would encourage all of you to explore your happiness by finding a way to help others while pursing your passion. The list of things you can do is endless and only limited by your imagination. There are hundreds of incredible organizations online you can pick from but below the staff here at WorkerAnts has chosen a few of our favorites from our global database that highlight the diversity activities you can participate in as you give back. So do you love cricket, sailing, wildlife, art projects and more? Then read on.

  • Dress a Girl Around the World, Arizona, USA - encourages people who sew or can provide fabric to make simple 'pillowcase' style dresses and send them to girls in need. Having a new dress makes a girl feel loved and look well cared for, something that can discourage predators who target poor and abandoned girls.
  • The Apprenticeshop, Maine, USA - dedicated to preserving the Maritime arts they have programs for youths and adults and train people in traditional boat building skills, sailing and more.

    Chance to Shine, London, England - gives children a chance to learn discipline, respect and teamwork while leaving a legacy of cricket in schools.

    Project GANESH, Washington D.C., USA - is dedicated to supporting the rehabilitation and restoration of Hindu temples, sponsoring research on temple practices and traditions, and supporting education and community economic development in India.

    SFJAZZ, California, USA - is committed to reach, develop and nurture current and future jazz musicians and audiences.

    Norfolk Botanical Garden Society, Virginia, USA - works to enrich life by promoting the enjoyment of plants and the environment through beautiful gardens and diverse educational programs.

    Children's Peace Theatre, Ontario, Canada - offers theatre and arts programs and projects for young people with the goal of promoting a culture of peace and an appreciation of the arts in the youth of our generation.

    The Little Art, Lahore, Pakistan - works in Pakistan to help children and young people to realize and achieve their dreams by funding projects and creative learning opportunities in the arts.

    The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, New Zealand - their work includes a variety of conservation activities, including re-forestation, lobbying and bird monitoring with the goal of protecting New Zealand's native species and wild places.

    American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Connecticut, USA - they are a membership organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the art, science and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.

    Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association, Isle of Man, UK - preserves parts of the IOM Railways as a permanent public exhibition and museum in addition to running educational programs on the railway and rail technology.

    Achilles International Brazil (Achilles Internacional Brasil), Sao Paulo, Brazil - committed to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities by enabling them to participate in athletics.

    Cyclists Fight Cancer (CFC), Stratford-upon-Avon, England - provides bikes, tandems and specially adapted trikes, as well as raise awareness and fund research to study the relationship between physical and mental wellbeing and physical activity in children surviving cancer.

    Fishing Has No Boundaries (FHNB), Wisconsin, USA - a National Organization with 23 chapters in 11 states, they enable thousands of individuals with disabilities to participate fully in this recreational activity.

    So get out there and follow your passion! All of these organization and many more like them need volunteers like you. You might be amazed at how much doing what you love can help others, and in return.... well, you might just find your happiness.