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The Happiness of Breaking Bread Together

A happy customer in line at the March 21 event in Cullowhee, NC, where two local nonprofits dedicated to feeding the hungry teamed up to serve a chef-prepared free meal to over 150 people.

Although the first day of Spring (International Day of Happiness) seems far behind us now, reports and photographs of the folks who participated in our third annual Happiness Dinners initiative are still trickling in.

This year’s dinners were held coast-to-coast, from Seattle, Washington to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands; in rural North Carolina and urban Boston; and even a few international events in Poland and Israel.

The broad spectrum of support for this initiative speaks to GNHUSA’s theme of “the unique capacity of happiness to unify people of all ages and backgrounds.” The shared meals and focused conversations are designed to celebrate happiness, and to deepen understanding of the conditions that foster greater personal and community well-being. Hosts are provided with a set of guidelines for initiating a conversation about wellbeing. The guidelines recommend taking time for each participant to reflect on a time in life when they were content, happy, and/or peaceful.¬† Participants are then asked to answer the following questions:

  1. What matters most in life?
  2. What could you do in your personal life or community to increase what matters most?
  3. What values have been expressed during your conversation?
  4. What is a compassionate response to people who express views different from yours?

This year for the first time, we road-tested an online happiness survey during the dinners. If you’d like to chime in about the above questions, we invite you to record your responses here.


In 2015 and 2016, IDOH dinners were held in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryand, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Canada, Costa Rica, England and Switzerland. Photos from previous dinners can be viewed here: http://gnhusa.org/happiness-dinners/

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