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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Experiencing happiness versus appearing happy

Each year, the International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20 March. First celebrated by the United Nations in 2013, this day is now celebrated by all member states of the United Nations General Assembly to recognize happiness and well-being as a “fundamental human goal.” Celebrations on this day in the past included ceremonies held by Ndaba Mandela and Chelsea Clinton, as well as the creation of the world’s first 24-hour music video with Pharrell Williams.

Actually experiencing happiness and appearing happy are two very different things though, as explained by Donna Freitas, author of the The Happiness Effect. In the age of social media, it’s easy (and oftentimes preferred) to curate personal posts to give others an impression that you’re constantly happy. This is the “fundamental human goal” after all. However, real-life repercussions of this may actually include sadness, envy, and frustration in spite of the online utopia that is created. We sat down with Donna to discuss the meaning of the phrase, “the happiness effect” and how it relates to the use of social media by young adults.

Featured image credit: Stuart Semple HappyClouds 2009. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

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