Forget International Day of Happiness, I declare my birthday as International Day of Grumpiness

PUBLISHED: 11:45 24 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 24 March 2018

Tuesday was International Day of Happiness... this lot look like they were celebrating, at least. Picture Getty Images.

Tuesday was International Day of Happiness... this lot look like they were celebrating, at least. Picture Getty Images.


As I write this, I am wearing a rictus grin that is causing my jaw muscles to cramp.

I have donned the grim grin to celebrate today’s International Day of Happiness (today writing day, not today reading day).

A day is a long time in grinning, so I fear that I’ll be locked into a permanent expression by midday that will make toddlers cry and old ladies cross the road to hide behind a bin.

My looking like Pennywise the Clown is a side-effect of one of my (many) pet hates – forced fun.

There’s nothing like forced fun to make me grumpy.

When a previous editor tried to corral us into wearing wacky ties for some charity or other, I put my black tie on to mark the sad passing of spontaneity.

Other departments are much better at organising “fun” than us cynical journalists, who get our happiness from moaning about it from a distance.

Ask us to wear fancy dress to raise money for short people, or children with an addiction to Babybel, and there’ll be a united front of refusal.

Happy Hour in pubs can only have been named ironically. It’s a time of necking as much booze as possible for the least cash, which is a joyless experience.

At least the Happy Hour signs give me a heads-up that it’s a pub to never go into.

Then we come to Comic Relief, an event where millions of people make a conscious effort to be funny. The mere thought of it lowers my serotonin level.

I just do not see how happiness or fun can be reliably scheduled.

Many of the most memorable moments come unexpectedly, unplanned: like seeing a marsh harrier over Blakeney Point, hearing a new song that finds its way straight to your heart, seeing somebody trip over and try to hide it, or running through a putting green sprinkler with friends after a night out.

It’s a shame, though, for it’s clear that there was a slapstick, irreverent atmosphere at UN HQ when the International Day of Happiness resolution was drawn up in 2012.

It’s a ripper, so strap yourself in.

“The General Assembly,[…] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal,[…] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities[…]”

I’d like to make it clear that all stupid punctuation, erroneous uppercase lettering and American spelling are the responsibility of the UN mandarins, who were probably so bathed in happiness that they let things slide.

I trust that Tuesday was a happy day for you? If so, it won’t have been because of “education and public awareness-raising activities”.

It really cannot be put in the calendar – which is why I’m guessing that only those who are not good at happy were aware of it.

For when organisations and administrators get involved in happiness, it’s like holding a damp cloth over a drain and wringing it until every drop of joy, fun and spontaneity has disappeared.

From North Korea’s marches and festivals to a parish council “fun day”, behind the smiles of the attendees you can see emptiness.

Happiness cannot be prescribed (though it can if you call it lithium).

Grumpiness, on the other hand, can be. Which is why I today declare December 20 (my birthday) as International Day of Grumpiness.

It will be a day to glower at children for laughing, pine for the good old days, tut a lot, change your Facebook status to “Steven is grumpy”, with a grumpy emoji, and mutter incessantly about boy racers, slow drivers, bad drivers, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

If you’re like me, it won’t require any planning.

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