Lottery's backing for good causes brings joy to Northern Ireland faces
The legendary American comedian George Burns spent the best part of three quarters of a century making people laugh with his quips and one-liners.
Happiness, he once said, is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family – in another city.
But in Northern Ireland, it would appear true happiness is to be found when surrounded by our family and friends.
A National Lottery Good Causes poll in conjunction with Lucid Talk and the Belfast Telegraph found more than half of us are at our most content when with our nearest and dearest.
The National Lottery's own family in Northern Ireland – the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Big Lottery Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sport NI – are close to breaking through the £1bn funding mark since we started out in 1994. And we have always adopted an attitude 'if it matters to you, then it matters to us'.
Therefore, family is important to us too.
National Lottery players have funded almost 20,000 good causes in Northern Ireland.
Our aim is to support people and communities most in need, so we target projects which will help families facing challenges such as separation, poverty, social isolation and physical and/or emotional abuse.
This funding is vital in supporting a range of activities, helping to reduce family isolation and strengthening relationships.
Walk along the walls of Londonderry, or through the Mournes and Belfast Hills and you are tracing pathways paved with National Lottery cash.
Bertrand Russell, the pacifist writer, believed it was necessary to understand what makes a person unhappy before it was possible to define true happiness.
At the weekend, a National Lottery-funded adaptation of Russell's Conquest of Happiness explored these themes during an open-air world premiere, as part of Derry's UK City of Culture celebrations. The collaboration between Belfast's Prime Cut Productions, the East West Theatre Company from Sarajevo and the Slovenian Mdlinsko Theatre group took the audience on an emotional journey through some of the most harrowing and dramatic events in world history.
But the spectacular show concluded with a performance of a simple children's song, which in many ways reinforced the message of the capacity for happiness to triumph despite the most difficult of circumstances.
Conquest of Happiness, which will also feature at the Belfast Festival at Queens in November, is just one of a number of City of Culture events made possible thanks to National Lottery funding.
It will come as little surprise that the current economic downturn and financial ill-health contribute towards almost half of people in Northern Ireland feeling unhappy.
Yet given a third of people in Northern Ireland claim they rarely or never feel happy during the day, the National Lottery has a simple message – the best way to cheer yourself up is to try and cheer somebody else up.
As we celebrate the 20th birthday of the National Lottery next year, National Lottery players can be rightfully proud of the role they play in supporting good causes and bringing so much happiness across Northern Ireland.