Africa, Asia, North America


The School Sisters of Notre Dame are active in a wide variety of ministries including education, health care, social outreach and pastoral ministry.


International Day of Happiness

At the briefing for the International Day of Happiness, clockwise from top left: Sister Eileen Reilly, Sister Sharon Kanis, Susan Barber and Mia Diamond, Beth Hancock and Jussara Kramer.

Paradox of Income and Happiness

In recognition of the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations, the DPI/NGO briefing attended by the delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame on Thursday focused on The Paradox of Income and Happiness, with an expert panel exploring scientifically proven data that demonstrates the inverse relationship that wealth can have on happiness.

The U.N. General Assembly in 2012 proclaimed March 20 the International Day of Happiness,  recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives in human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. The United Nations has invited member states, 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.

Happiness leads to success ...

The speakers on Thursday’s panel presentation discussed: "a scientific and researched-based look at nations measuring happiness - inside and outside governments - how they measure it, and the elements that are impacting it,” said Mia Diamond, a Notre Dame of Maryland University student attending the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women with the SSND delegation.

Mia said that the message shared by Hector Escamilla, president of TecMilenio University in Mexico, resonated most with her. Escamilla said, “Happiness leads to success; success doesn't lead to happiness."

“I couldn't agree more with this ideology,” Mia said. “It sounds so simple; yet most people, unfortunately, think the opposite is true. If more people spent time appreciating life and engaging in work they enjoy, maybe success would come more naturally or easily.  As a society, we need to refocus our beliefs in order to be successful, happy individuals. Success is not the only goal; happiness is, too. What a beautiful world it would be if every person was happy!”

SSND contribution to happiness research

The School Sisters of Notre Dame, an NGO with the United Nations, has a unique perspective on happiness. In the book, Authentic Happiness, psychologist Martin Seligman describes a study on happiness and longevity that includes the writings of 178 School Sisters of Notre Dame who composed autobiographies when they entered the congregation. Researchers who analyzed the essays found a correlation between the sisters’ life spans and their use of “happy” language and the expression of positive emotions.

It was discovered that 90 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age eighty-five versus only 34 percent of the least cheerful quarter. Similarly, 54 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age ninety-four, as opposed to 11 percent of the least cheerful quarter.


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