Comme ci, comme ça.
Last week my university paired up with the Happiness Institute to gather 150 designers on a short design hack. This is my contubution.
Here lies the timeline of my love-hate relationship with happiness
When my geography teacher told me I could do a project on anything human-related, I remember being in school. I did some research and found out about Bhutan's famous Gross Domestic Happiness Index. I was stunned. I remember telling everyone I knew about this, but nobody was as excited as I was. Why weren't they hyped!! I started digging deep into what makes people happy and if that correlates to the growth of your mind and body.
I found out happiness might have been the wrong word to use. It's unattainable; contentment might have been better. The happiness you see is a goal, not a journey. I never understood the anger and excessive unhappiness within people. I never grasped why people would be constantly unhappy.
My project was graded a C- for being too unpractical.
Question: Is happiness is a choice or a privilege?
After much deliberation and a loss of a formidable relationship, I took my camera and started taking photos of the things that made me happy. I took a page out of Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York’s book and embarked on an adventure. I went around the world photographing strangers and asking them two questions (Mood Dependent)
- “If you were to give a child some advice, what would you tell them
- “What made you happy today”
The responses were Oscar-worthy. I met so many people and got so much insight into different emotions that I became paralysed with peace. I saw an opportunity to create this platform of people sharing advice and exchanging words, a stranger to a neighbour.
I called it Happiness For Humanity; A big promise in a name I know- let me dream.
Here was my general description.
Just when you think there is nothing that can make you change your mind about the world, there is a photo that you can relate to, song to sing or words to motivate you.The aim of happiness for humanity is to inspire you to make a change; to think differently about everything you see or do.
How is this done?
The perfect combination of EQ & Photography
What exactly do you mean?
With each photograph, I hope to inspire you to use different perspectives about people; working towards judging less and doing towards ones best.
I still don’t quite understand?
Each photograph has a wild story behind it and my aim is to help people understand types of perspectives. If you cant read into the photo you are not wrong, try looking multiple ways until you have gained your own understanding.
What are the outcomes?
You know when someone just looks mean, they’re not. Just to help practice the art of seeing, even if it means looking thrice at a picture just to understand 2%.
It didn’t do very well because I didn’t know how to deepen a photographic experience, so I shelved the idea (If you can help me, please contact me!).
Question: How can you deepen your connection with happiness with your memories?
I remember being introduced to the Global Goals by a friend and having glittery eyes. This was my greatest feeling of happiness. I felt most happy to see a list of goals that will contribute to promoting global peace- essentially. They derived from the MDG’s in the 2000s.
I just imagined 195 representatives of each country having a round table on what could be a better world. (Imagine playing Chinese whispers here).
Okay, so there need to be actionable steps and ways to measure this; it does sound magical, but we need to translate the magic into action, which is the part that is the most complex.
I got invited to view the United Nations headquarters, and I remember feeling like a teenage girl about to see Green Day for the first time! I dressed in my finest red scarf, looking like a complete douche, and waltzed my way into the building of peace. This day was the starting point of how I found my passion, drive and motivation to do what I do today.
Question: How can I translate my happiness to this passion for changing the world?
Despite the obvious, I decided to make a wheel of life, showing improvement to maintain my happiness and life satisfaction. This helped me identify where I needed to work to achieve overall inner peace. I don’t have many words to share about this year because my reflections are still pending. But if I had to choose one phrase, it would be Comme ci, comme ça.
Question: Does quantifying happiness make you miserable in the long run?
Today I have found that my happiness levels stem from the smallest of things. In my timeline above, I have a photo of a plant emerging from a drain. I love when I see this because it reminds me that nature is here first, a transcendence feeling.
Question: Why is it that the smallest things make me feel happy?
I decided to take a walk on the day of the happiness hack and note down everything that made me happy on that walk. Here is that list.
- When older people put their hands behind their back, interlace them and walk slowly
- A parent or guardian telling a small child a story
- Dogs licking something they shouldn’t, and the owner showing so much care by shouting
- Komorebi 木漏れ日, the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees
- A bird talking to another bird
- A cyclist singing to themselves
- The pitter-patter of dogs paws
- Somebody sneezing and a random stranger blessing the allergy sufferer
- Cars flashing their lights to say you can cross now
- The things people do to calm crying babies
- People who are not afraid to dress in colourful attire on a rainy day
- Catching a sentence of somebody else's conversation, “I only get sad on Wednesdays.”
- When someone kicked their football too far, and you have to kick it back
- Second-hand embarrassment when seeing people come out from the bush
- The sound of the champagne bottle opening and people screaming with mirth
- Smooches from a couple
- Walking towards somebody and then doing a little jiggle to see who should move first
- People running from the rain when it decides to turn up
- A man walking his turtle?
Reflection: I loved observing my walk! I don’t think I have done anything remotely meditative; I feel grateful.
Thanks for reading this if you’ve made it this far. I recommend the walk I did. I learnt a lot.