When asked what happiness is, one may first think of the positive or pleasant emotions they’ve experienced in their lives, and then what they wish to achieve in order for the feelings to last. From having lots of friends and acquaintances, becoming wealthy in materialistic possessions, to adapting the “live, laugh, love” mantra, there is no one universal path to happiness.
More generally speaking, happiness is, in fact, a human right and a determining factor to great economic growth, with its importance recognized and celebrated by the United Nations through the annual global event International Day of Happiness celebrated on the 20th of March. Notwithstanding, the day is not only an occasion to spread delight and good vibes, but also to spread awareness that well-being and human happiness are also contributing elements to sustainable progress and development.
Consequently, various global statistics and indexes have been developed to gauge the level of happiness, from the Gross National Index, which was adopted by the Bhutan government instead of Gross National Product as the guiding index for national development, the Human Happiness Index measured and reported annually, to the third Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well-being.
According to the 2022 World Happiness Report issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Finland is the happiest country in the world. However, happiness is not granted, as reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) have indicated that approximately 280 million people in the world suffer from depression. During the first year of COVID-19, when everyone was still in a daze from a pandemic that basically came out of nowhere and turned lives upside down, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression went up a whopping 25%, as a scientific brief released by WHO shows.
What “happiness” means to baby boomers
Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers make up a substantial percentage of the world’s population. In 2020, the percentage of the population aged 65 and above in Vietnam was roughly 7.9%, or more than 7.6 million people, according to the World Bank.
Having experienced a number of shaping historical events, from the World War II period, the atrocities of the devastating Vietnam War, to the abrupt changes heralded by the technological revolution, baby boomers have seen and done it all. Acknowledging this, happiness is all the more a valuable state worth cherishing and celebrating.
And as everyone may possess different definitions of happiness, what is a better way than letting baby boomers speak for themselves what happiness means to them on a personal level. Today, in honor of the International Day of Happiness, we asked five baby boomers what happiness means to them.
Turns out, the elders of our families are selfless, loving people, who generally find joy and satisfaction in their beloved ones’ happiness and achievements in life. Not only that, but this empathic age group also places major emphasis on maintaining a wholesome lifestyle and having enduring, good health, now that they’re in the evening of life.
Hoang Thi Gam, 76
Happiness is the feeling of “enough”, of being satisfied with what you have at the moment. We shouldn’t be too greedy in life. At an old age, I think it’s enough to have good health, especially when it’s deteriorating, a peaceful life, and filial children. Then there’s nothing more I’d wish for in this life.
Nguyen Thanh Son, 62
Happiness is being able to accomplish the things you want, be it having good friends, affluence, a wholesome family. As long as we can achieve our aspirations, then we’ll be satisfied and happy.
Nguyen Thi Hai, 63
Happiness to me is being able to spend time with my six children, who love me tremendously as much as I love them. They’ve been there for me through the toughest time of my life. Now that I’m at a later stage of life, quality time with family — my children and grandchildren — is my top priority and greatest source of happiness.
Pham Thi Hon, 69
Happiness is, first of all, having good health, and second of all, having your children and grandchildren living a well-off, fulfilled life on their own. It’s as simple as that for me.
Nguyen Van Thanh, 67
For me, happiness lies in contentedness, and in our ability to establish relationships with a sense of equality, mutual respect, kindness, and sympathy, whether it’s in the family or in our social connections. In the words of Kahlil Gibran, “to wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving,” that’s the genesis of happiness.