The Pursuit of Happiness

Today is International Day of Happiness. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the event with this message:

“On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”

When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. A boy in the YMCA afterschool program came to the YMCA from an unsettled past. In Ben’s first weeks with the YMCA he was reserved, anxious, and unwilling to try new snacks or engage in activities. Within a month of afterschool program, something changed for Ben; healthy snacks tasted good and outdoor activities were fun. Ben’s face lit up, laughter rolling from his smile, as he imagined, created, learned, and played with his peers. When we ask Ben about his favorite part of YMCA afterschool, the answer is immediate: friends.

Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want. If I could have anything in the world, it would be this: every child would be safe, well-fed, and loved. For Ben, the YMCA offered a safe platform for building self-confidence, learning communication skills, and developing healthy relationships with other children and adults who practice the same YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

We choose the work we do because every day there is an opportunity to see happiness in the community that we serve. The kindness that we experience among our children, teens, and adults is contagious – we can literally feel the positive energy radiating from the interactions, connections, and feelings of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Walk with us. How will you celebrate your International Day of Happiness, and pledge yourself to help others?

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