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A history of happiness

BY READERS DIGEST

1st Jan 2015 Life

A history of happiness
Happiness is something many take for granted, but the history has been a little more turbulent than that. It has even been declared a right! From Aristotle to the United Nations, find out what it means to be happy.
350 BC
  • Aristotle writes that happiness is:
the best, most noble, and most pleasant thing in the world
1776
  • The US Declaration of Independence declares that all men have a right to “the pursuit of happiness”.
1799
  • British chemist Humphry Davy discovers the pain-relieving and giggle-inducing properties of nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”.
1840 
  • William Mansel Llewelyn becomes perhaps the first person to be captured smiling in a photograph.
1900 
  • Parenting books address childhood happiness.
1920 
  • US Navy sailors introduce the phrase happy hour for the scheduled period of entertainment and relaxation aboard the ship.
1935
  • .Patty and Mildred Hill’s: “Happy Birthday to You” is copyrighted.
1950
  • American and Swiss researchers stumble across drugs that improve mood in depressed patients: antidepressants are born.
1972
  • Bhutan leader Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduces “gross national happiness” as a measure for national success.
1988
  • Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” becomes the first a cappella song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Prozac is also introduced to the US market. Coincidence?
1998
  • Martin Seligman founds positive psychology, with the aim of making  “normal life more fulfilling”.
2010
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron announces the “happiness index”, an initiative to measure the wellbeing of the British people.
  • Twenty-somethings rethink happiness.
My vision of success is based on the impact I can have, much more than the pursuit of money or prestige 
- Matt Salzberg, Harvard Business School class of 2010.
2011
  • The UN resolves that the happiness of its member nations will play a larger role in development policy.
2012
  • Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness, writes: 
Happiness is the culmination of all of the actions, choices, and habits that fill our days, as well as how we think about them.

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