A history of happiness


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
  • The US Declaration of Independence declares that all men have a right to “the pursuit of happiness”.
  • British chemist Humphry Davy discovers the pain-relieving and giggle-inducing properties of nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”.
  • William Mansel Llewelyn becomes perhaps the first person to be captured smiling in a photograph.
  • Parenting books address childhood happiness.
  • US Navy sailors introduce the phrase happy hour for the scheduled period of entertainment and relaxation aboard the ship.
  • .Patty and Mildred Hill’s: “Happy Birthday to You” is copyrighted.
  • American and Swiss researchers stumble across drugs that improve mood in depressed patients: antidepressants are born.
  • Bhutan leader Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduces “gross national happiness” as a measure for national success.
  • 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?
  • Martin Seligman founds positive psychology, with the aim of making  “normal life more fulfilling”.
  • 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.
  • The UN resolves that the happiness of its member nations will play a larger role in development policy.
  • 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.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...