March 20th is International Happiness Day. Thanks to Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott, it’s also Baltimore Happiness Day, and the day that Clymb’s Prioritize Emotional Health petition launches.

International Happiness Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly on June 18th, 2012 to help people around the world realize the importance of happiness in their lives. The United Nations recognizes happiness as a fundamental human goal. Happiness influences our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is the primary determinant of overall life satisfaction.

Mayor Brandon Scott and Clymb Founder Ashley Williams

Thanks to Brandon M. Scott, the Mayor of Baltimore City, March 20th is also Baltimore Happiness Day, and the day that Clymb’s Prioritize Emotional Health petition launches. The Prioritize Emotional Health petition raises awareness about the connection between happiness and emotional health, and calls for dedicated annual funding from Congress for evidence-based mental and emotional wellness resources in schools. The petition aligns with Clymb’s mission to spread happiness, enrich the lives of young people, and dismantle harmful repetitive cycles by assessing and teaching emotional wellness. Evidence-based social and emotional learning strategies help students and communities thrive – and become happier. The Prioritize Emotional Health petition is a step toward real, sustainable change for young people.

This emphasis on happiness and emotional wellbeing matters more than ever. In this time of hardship, uncertainty, stress, and challenge, we cannot afford not to prioritize happiness, because happiness and survival are inextricably intertwined.

TIME Magazine writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to decreased overall happiness in the United States and around the world. Symptoms of anxiety and depression hit an all-time high. At the end of the second month of the first lockdown back in 2020, more than one in four American adults presented with symptoms of serious mental distress and illness, and children and teens reported similar rates of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and general unhappiness. According to a 2021 report by the Surgeon General, today’s generation of teenagers and children are facing an “unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate” set of challenges that may have a devastating mental and emotional health impact, both in the short and the long term.

How do we combat these symptoms and turn things around? It starts with emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is also known as emotional quotient, or EQ, and it is defined as the skills and abilities surrounding our ability to understand and manage our feelings. If we can become in tune with our feelings by listening to ourselves, identify and name our emotions, and manage those emotions in positive ways, we make room for happiness. There is a statistically significant positive correlation between happiness and emotional intelligence, which indicates emotional intelligence predicts happiness. Children with higher emotional intelligence are more engaged in school, better able to regulate their behaviors and demonstrate higher academic achievement. Adults with emotional wellness have stronger relationships, improved physical and mental health, and higher lifelong earnings.

Mindfulness, gratitude, connecting with others, taking responsibility for our actions without judgment, and practicing empathy are all ways to improve emotional intelligence and increase happiness. With the pandemic, it’s been a tough couple of years for everyone. If the answer to the question, “Are you happy?” is not what you want it to be, then it may be time to work on your emotional intelligence. What better day to do it than on International Day of Happiness?

Another small step to take today is to sign the Prioritize Emotional Health petition.  By signing your name, you are helping to spread happiness by ensuring a future in which all young people receive the roadmap to emotional well-being.