Sunday, March 20, marks the fourth annual celebration of the International Day of Happiness, the United Nations-sanctioned holiday promoting the universal right to be happy. It might seem like the kind of sentiment that goes without saying, but the happiness of ordinary individuals often falls to the wayside in discussions of global policy — a disparity the holiday is intended to address. Created by Illien Global CEO Jayme Illien in 2012, the International Day of Happiness encourages people across the world to pursue their unique paths to happiness.
"Happiness may have different meanings for different people, but we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty, and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said in 2012. This year, the U.N. and Illien are encouraging people to post what makes them happy on social media with the tag #InternationalDayofHappiness — so if you've been waiting for the right time to share that kitten GIF or inspirational quote, today is the day.
Of course, each individual's definition of happiness is different: For some people, it may mean starting a family or settling down with a book for a few hours, but for others, aka myself, happiness is a solo Justin Bieber dance party. These differences are part of the International Day of Happiness; without all the weird quirks that make us different, the world would be pretty boring. Most importantly, although our reasons may vary, each of us deserves the right to pursue what makes us happy, and that's what the International Day of Happiness is really about.
"Happiness is a fundamental human right and goal, and every person on this planet should experience it not only on this special day, but throughout year," Illien said. "Everyone smiles in the same language."
So go ahead and do what makes you happy today — but if you need a jump-start to the day, these nine facts are sure to make you smile.
1. Capybaras Can Purr
Those little fluffballs up there aren't just BFFs with the entire animal kingdom — they can also purr. Go ahead and swoon.
2. Norway Knighted A Penguin
In 2008, king penguin and honorary colonel-in-chief Nils Olaf was knighted by the Norwegian King's Guard. He's actually the third king penguin to bear the name since the 1970s, when the original Olaf served as the mascot of the King's Guard and quickly rose through the ranks.
3. You And Your Cat Have A Secret Language
Although cats don't have vocal cords capable of forming words, research indicates that cats and their owners develop a special language to communicate with each other.
4. Kaninhoppning Exists
When it comes to weird competitions, Kaninhoppning takes the cake. It's a Swedish tradition of rabbit show jumping — like an equestrian competition, but much smaller and fluffier.
5. Astronaut Eugene Cernan Wrote His Daughter's Initials On The Moon
The initials "TDC" are likely to remain in the dust on the moon long after we're all gone.
6. Crows Love Pranks
Crows are notoriously intelligent, and with their smarts comes a sense of humor and playfulness.
7. Goats Have Accents
Research has shown that like humans, goats have accents. Seriously.
8. Inmates Help Train Service Dogs
Puppies Behind Bars is a program training inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and law-enforcement canines. Needless to say, the inmates are pretty happy with the arrangement.
9. Smiling Makes You Happier
Studies have shown that our facial expressions influence our real emotions: Frowning makes us more sensitive to pain, but smiling intensifies our happiness — so if you're having a bad day, think about capybaras until you're happy again. You're welcome.
Images: Getty Images (3), Giphy (4)