By Laura Puerta (5th semester FIGRI student, the World in English elective)
Human beings are complicated. We are full of different thoughts, feelings, senses and many situations that affect not just our mind, but also our body. Haven’t you noticed that when you feel sad, your body starts weakening, and that you start moving at a lower speed? Have you felt that when you are happy, your body feels strong and your mind is clear? Those effects on your body are not imaginary. One of those feelings is “Happiness”, which according to Osho, an Indian guru, “is when the burden has been dropped and the mirror is found again; your mirror can again reflect the trees and the sun and the sand and the sea and the stars.” It expresses calm and harmony between mind and body. It reflects not only an optimism after a fall, but a wellness of the body.
Different studies have shown the significance of feelings in both mental and physical health. According to Josep María Serra-Grabulosa, doctor and professor of the Psychiatry and Psychobiology department at Barcelona University, “being more optimistic affects the nervous, neuroendocrine and immunological systems. For this reason, people who are happier, in general, experience fewer cardio and cerebrovascular problems, and as their immune system is strengthened, the possibility of illness decreases.” That is why happiness and public health are on the agenda of governments and international organizations. However, health is not a new topic when it comes to the government. As Bellahsen explained, “public health implementation [...] corresponds to a shift in the forms of government that Foucault describes as the step of a disciplinary sovereignty to a society centered in security mechanism”.
Nowadays, from a national and worldwide perspective, the increasing cases of social unrest and altered epidemiological indicators, such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder are disturbing. These illnesses increment the demand for not only psychologists but also other medical professionals, and sometimes push people to take non-prescribed medications that will noticeably affect their physical health and the medical system in each country.
Today, I believe, there is no doubt of the huge importance that happiness has in our world, in our everyday routines and welfare. There is no secret as to why the United Nations decreed, in 2012, March 20th as the “International Day of Happiness” in order for governments to contemplate “happiness” as part of their management and administration.