International Day of Happiness: It's the little things that count

I was on my way into work one morning, travelling Auckland’s northern motorway into the city, the sun was on its way up and the sky was lit up with golden rays shining through the clouds giving them a purple glow that shone across the Auckland City landscape.

How’s the serenity? I thought to myself. Pretty good, actually.

I later jotted it down in my notebook to practice being grateful. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the trick is to notice and be grateful for all the little things that make your life a better, like the sunrise on the way to the office, the smell of your coffee first thing in the morning, or hearing a long forgotten favourite song on the radio.

I was recently talking with a team in our Contact Centre about the fast-paced world we now live in. It’s a busy time for us all, and the days of 2018 can easily slip into a blur of mornings spent running to your next meeting, afternoons sitting at your computer catching up on work, collapsing on the couch at home and catching up on our favourite reality TV shows in the evenings (or is that just me?). Before you know it, it’s already the end of March.

The world has come a long way with the introduction of technology, but the truth is it’s come at some cost to our health – mental, emotional and physical. We don’t feel the need to catch up with friends as often because we can see what they’re up to Facebook, we’re taking fewer steps in our work days as we have everything at our fingertips, and we don’t even have to think as hard when we can Google the answer to everything. Don’t get me wrong, 2018 is a great time to be alive and I would (literally) be lost without Google maps. However, these conveniences mean there’s a need for us to be more proactive in maintaining a healthy wellbeing.

The Dalai Lama’s comment that "Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions", inspired the Action for Happiness group to organise ‘International Day of Happiness’, which is celebrated today in over 160 countries. All who participate in events do so to help make our world a happier one and bring about a greater awareness of the topic.

There are a few other complementary awareness days about how we feel on the inside. There’s the WHO’s World Mental Health Day and, a little closer to home, Mental Health Awareness Week, which is coordinated by the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation. Once upon a time these types of awareness days and weeks weren’t even a consideration for the generations before us, but times have certainly changed, and with them is the need to look after our own health and happiness, and that of our friends, family and colleagues. But, as with so many things in the modern world, sometimes we need a little help, or a reminder, to consider the most basic of emotions, like happiness.

At AA Insurance, we work hard to look after our people, not just at work, but in their personal lives as well. So, we look to the Foundation for recommendations, like the following five actions that can be built into our daily lives.

Those five actions are:

Connect - Strengthening relationships with others and feeling close to and valued by others, including at work, is critical to boosting wellbeing.

Give - Carrying out acts of kindness, whether small or large, can increase happiness, life satisfaction and general sense of wellbeing.

Take Notice - Paying more attention to the present moment, to thoughts and feelings and to the world around us, boosts our wellbeing.

Keep Learning - Being curious and seeking out new experiences at work, and in life more generally, positively stimulates the brain.

Be Active - Being physically active, including at work, improves physical health and can improve mood and wellbeing and decrease stress, depression and anxiety.

Many will be doing some of these actions already; it’s just a matter of recognising them. If you’re not, or want to do more, it could be as easy as taking two minutes to list three things you’re grateful for, organising a catch up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, or registering for that photography course you’ve always wanted to do. So, give it a go and pick one of the five actions, because starting small can often make the greatest impact.

Erin Brearley

Safety & Wellbeing Business Partner, AA Insurance

About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 930+ staff look after over 480,000 customers with 970,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Variety NZ and Eden Park and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (since 2011) and Quality Service Awards for Car, and Home and Contents Insurance (since 2015), Kantar Customer Leadership Index (since 2019), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2011-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. AA Insurance was also named Consumer NZ People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents (2019 and 2020).

AA Insurance has an AA- (Very Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit

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