Note: this piece by Paula Francis, GNHUSA’s chief happiness walker and co-vice president, was first published on the Project Happiness website after she and Project Happiness filmmaker and author Randy Taran met in Palo Alto, California:
We recently celebrated the International Day of Happiness. This is an annual event on March 20th to remind us that happiness is indeed important. Personally, I believe we ought to focus on happiness every day of the year. As a co-founder of Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA), our organization raises awareness of this important fact on a daily basis.
This is why I have walked over 5,400 miles in 600 days over the course of the past 6 years talking to people about happiness and researching what we, in the United States, believe truly matters in life: identifying our common values and characteristics of a thriving nation.
As I was walking through Palo Alto, CA I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Taran the CEO and founder of Project Happiness. It is not common to meet people along this journey who place as much importance on happiness as GNHUSA, so it’s truly inspiring when you meet someone who devotes their life to creating a radical shift towards happiness and wellbeing.
A little background – We have been dependent upon the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of our country’s progress since 1934; and, we have not done a thorough assessment of what our priorities and values are since then so as to guide our public policies.
Creating a shift
Both of our organizations (GNHUSA and Project Happiness) are intent on creating a shift in our personal and public lives to increase our overall wellbeing, and work to change how we define the success of our nation. We do this through our aligned missions and activities.
So you may be curious what people across the country say matters most in life. While we are still in the process of analyzing the data that is critical to this work, it is clear our RELATIONSHIPS rise to the top: our families, friends, people we care about. Contributing to their happiness and well-being matters a lot!
When interviewed in Northern California, Pamela said this, which has been echoed across the states, “Family matters but they don’t have to be blood relatives.” The Hawaiians are familiar with this concept and even have a name for it: hānai family, an informal enfoldment into a family regardless of age.
Community is also mentioned, which extends our hānai relationships outward to those whom we may not even be acquainted. Others talk about our world community, including our relationships with animals and nature.
What if the policies of our local, state, and national governance systems reflected and supported our connection to one another? What if our practices and strategies strove to bring our communities together and actively sought to prevent divisiveness? Most people say this would be a much better place, certainly a happier one.
Sisters in Happiness
I met my hānai sister in Palo Alto: my sister in happiness. We are bonded by our passion to uplift lives and create systems that truly reflect and support the happiness and wellbeing of all. I’m honored and proud to be part of Randy’s community.
For more information about Project Happiness, go to https://www.projecthappiness.org
About Randy Taran
Project Happiness is a non profit organization bridging the science of happiness into strategies for everyday life. Randy is the founder and CEO of Project Happiness. When her own child was suffering from stress and depression, this ignited a passion to share the best resources to help others facing similar challenges. She is the co-author of the Project Happiness Handbook, bringing the best of positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness to youth. This book has become the backbone for our leading social and emotional learning curriculum, serving students, teachers, counselors and coaches in every state and over 120 countries.
Randy produced the award-winning documentary “Project Happiness” which brought together young people from three continents to ask one question – “What is the nature of lasting happiness?” They interviewed George Lucas, Richard Gere, neuroscientist Richard Davidson and ultimately, in Dharamsala, India, had an unforgettable private audience with the Dalai Lama.