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Brazil set to enshrine the right to find happiness

In a nation known for its jubilant spirit, massive parties and seemingly intrinsic ability to celebrate anything under the sun, is a constitutional amendment really required to protect the pursuit of happiness?

Several lawmakers think so, and a bill to amend Brazil's constitution to make the search for happiness an inalienable right is widely expected to be approved soon by the Senate. The bill would then go to the lower house.

The debate comes a month before Brazil's Carnival, a raucous festival replete with tens of thousands half-naked men and women that Rio officials call the largest party on Earth. But supporters say the happiness bill is a serious undertaking despite the revelry, meant to address Brazil's stark economic and social inequalities.

"In Brazil, we've had economic growth without the social growth hoped for," said Mauro Motoryn, the director of the Happier Movement, a non-governmental organisation backing the legislation.

Similar explorations of officially finding happiness have been pushed by other governments. Japan and South Korea include the right to happiness in their constitutions. In the early 1970s, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan pioneered the idea of a "happiness index".