Turks find happiness in family life

By Burcu Arik Ozer/Tuncay Kayaoglu, Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As International Day of Happiness will be celebrated on March 20 in Turkey for the first time, 73 percent of individuals declare that their families make them happy

As International Day of Happiness will be celebrated on March 20 in Turkey for the first time, 73 percent of individuals declare that their families make them happy

ISTANBUL (AA) - How many times a year do you get an excuse to celebrate happiness? Why not on March 20? 

The International day of happiness, which was established by the United Nations (UN) on June 28, 2012, will be celebrated throughout the world on March 20. This special day will be celebrated in Turkey for the first time this year. 

By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development, and alleviates poverty. Additionally the UN acknowledges that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well-being.

The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan – a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. The Himalayan kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and social prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). The GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where spiritual well-being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well-being.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), many Turks believe that the international day of happiness isn't about drawing smiley faces on sticky notes or putting a good face on bad news, it is about hitting the "pause" button sometime during March 20 and thinking about how happiness is an essential element of a basic life.

- Happiness resides in family

Families is one of the top factors to make Turkish people happy, according to the interview. Many Turks say that the happiness resides in family. 

Twenty-eight years old waiter Halit Ozturk believes that family values contribute more to his happiness before material ones. “Without family, material wealth does not mean anything.”

Nuriye Bozkurt, 27 years old security guard, agrees with Halit about the meaning of happiness.

“Material and moral values should co-exist to be happy. But family comes first,” she said. She called herself “happy” for the time being, and commented that one should know how to make oneself happy, otherwise that person cannot be happy.

However, Samet Buyukovali, 24-year-old student at Marmara University Law Faculty, thinks that without money, love and family issues mean nothing, by adding "I cannot make any surprises for my girlfriend because I have not enough income which all affect my happiness adversely." 

According to the interview, Turks differ whether men or women are happier in the country. For example, while Halit says that women are happier when Turkish men take it as their responsiblity to take care of them, Nuriye said Turkish women have more responsibilities with work, childcare, family and household matters.

-The key of happiness is in your hand

"It is wonderfully freeing to simply write these words: Happiness is essential" says famous Turkish psychologist Cenk Erdem, "While it is different for each of us, happiness is something we all need and deserve."

"Waking up fresh, drinking a cup of tea with great enjoyment or seeing the one that you love most is the real happiness," Erdem said.

Erdem stated that he cannot see happiness on the faces of men and women in the streets or shopping centers, "but we can easily recognise that no one can be bursting with happiness when we evaluate the latest political and economical situation of the country." 

"Happiness is not the result of wealth, health or education. Rather, it is an indicator of those things" says Erdem, "This makes happiness a powerful tool in improving worldwide economics and the health and well-being of people all around the globe."

Erdem noted that happiness varies from person to person, Erdem said "Turkish people who grew up with traditional values embrace differences. However, the growing social media is shattering that intimate connection in a fairly direct way."

-Growth does not bring happiness, but neither does stagnation

TurkStat reports on the damning failure of the GNP-centered approach to happiness. For example, while the GNP of Turkey has grown in the last couple of years, Turks do not claim to be happier today. There was always a sense that pursuing happiness through growth was illusory, this is now unquestionable,

Including the factors of gender, age, group, education level and marital status, TurkStat's report says while 61 percent of individuals say that they were happy in 2012, the percentage was 59 percent in 2013. While 10.2 percent of individuals claimed that they were unhappy in 2012, the percentage was 10.8 in 2013.

In cites inequalities, poverty, and bad health are obstacles to happiness and conversely solidarity, education and health are highlighted as contributors to happiness. The report reveals that educated people have a higher level of happiness, while the percentage for higher education graduates was 62 percent, primary and secondary school graduates are slightly lower at 59 percent.

The report concludes that beyond health, economic and social variables at the macro level, happiness primarily depends on the lifestyle we adopt, and that, therefore, "we can improve our quality of life by adopting a lifestyle and using technology that enhances our well-being."

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