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The 10,000-mile Question: What Matters Most in Life?

Happiness Walker

Paula Francis

Crossing a big country with walking shoes and a recorder, Paula Francis researched and reported on happiness by interviewing thousands of people during the 10,000 mile Happiness Walk.

She tapped into the innate wisdom of those she met on the road to ultimately align policies of our systems, institutions, and government with a newly defined set of values. “We ought to uphold our basic right – and that of future generations – to the pursuit of happiness. When our measures of progress and success are not aligned with our values, individuals, our humanity, and the planet suffer,” said Paula.

Walking Back to Vermont – In Silence

A Note From Paula: Though I was consciencious to assure interviews reflected the great diversity of people within the US, even with my best efforts, there remain people whose voices are underrepresented in this research. They include those who are systemically unheard, disenfranchised, disregarded, hidden, or silenced. And while earnest attempts were made to speak with people in a variety of settings, interviews do not adequately represent people who were institutionalized nor those with whom either my communication skills or geographics presented challenges.

In recognition of this void, I am walking the remaining 139 of this 10,000-mile walk in silence. Retracing steps from the 2012 inaugural walk, I am starting on November 12th at the MA-VT border on route 5 and continuing north on route 14 into Montpelier, VT where the idea of GNHUSA was birthed. Please consider observing this journey’s end with me at noon on November 19th at the Vermont State House on State Street. 

Happiness Walk US Arrives in Boston

November 7, 2019 – Paula Francis has walked the east coast from Vermont to Jacksonville, Florida, along the southern border to Los Angeles, California with a Happiness Walk stop in Hawaii, up the west coast to Seattle, Washington, and full-circle back east finishing in Boston, MA on November 2, 2019.

All totaled, Paula walked through 32 states plus Washington DC and even into Montreal, Canada. It is estimated one interview was conducted for every five-miles-walked but a full analysis will reveal the statistics more accurately. As many as 96 walkers and one cyclists joined her over the seven years, she was hosted by 222 host families, and was the beneficiary of countless acts of kindness.


View current Route Map and Walking Schedule

Happiness Walk and Research Project Stats

(number of interviews is an approximate)
Miles Walked
Days on the road
States traveled
Fellow Walkers
Lodging Hosts


The Happiness Walk has discovered that, contrary to what we may hear in traditional media, we are mostly very much alike – we value the same things!


👣  People have deep wisdom to share,
👣  Most of us have a unifying vision,
👣  Listening is as important as the answers, and
👣  Most agree we can do better to support what we value.

Stay tuned in as we are currently analyzing thousands of these interviews from people all across the country to uncover our core common values.

Happiness Walk Route

Happiness Walk Video Highlights

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