Project Happiness: How Are YOU Faring?

Mar. 20, 2015 Update It’s evidently #International Day of Happiness on Twitter which ironically takes up most of the 140 characters as a hashtag, so I’m reprising this post to give people some ideas about the latest Project Happiness challenge to launch ‘circles of happiness’ in sustainable ways.

It’s also apropos to reprise Media That Uplifts and Inspires: Positive Picks for Youth Outreach as the World Health Organization has indicated adolescent youth can use all the help they can get in terms of reframing the focus towards happiness, especially among the core 10-19 developmental bracket.

Here’s more about the Project Happiness film and book to boost the joy juice within. Enjoy!


What makes the heart sing? How can we be happier?


Original Post: Feb. 14, 2010 I can’t help but think of all the overheard snippets of conversations I heard today at our massive teen NCVA volleyball tournament running the gamut from elation to despair, goodwill to grousing…I knew I was going to write about the Project Happiness Parent Workshop, (“Helping Your Child Achieve More Happiness in a Stressful World”) so I turned my day into a social experiment, observing the old adage about happiness being ‘contagious’ (along with stress and negativity). What made some teams ‘happy’ and spirited and fun to be around, while others appeared stressed out, fatigued and perfunctory?

I tuned in to some of the ambient chatter, “This isn’t exactly what I’d call a romantic dinner,” one woman said as she served up a team’s snack for Valentine’s Day…“Can you believe we’re here instead of watching the Olympics?” “You OWE me a REAL Valentine…” “Hey, my husband didn’t even get me a card, but most of my friends are here anyway, so I’m happy.”

Happy. There’s that word again.

From Time magazine’s The New Science of Happiness cover story awhile back to the Atlantic’s deep dive into Harvard’s archives (one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history) for the 2009 feature What Makes Us Happy it’s way past time for me to sniff around this concept myself to explore the notion of ‘happier kids, happier parents.’

Is happiness something you can truly ‘pursue?’ Or does it elude the more you chase it?

Can you dodge people who consistently steal it from you? Can you hand it off to other people?

As I watched the Olympic pairs skating later, it made me think about how some people are so ‘in synch’ and resilient and positively joyful to be around and others are like emotional vampires that suck the lifeblood right out of you with a draining deluge of angst and despair…Enter Randy Taran and the Project Happiness movement.

Randy Taran writes on her Project Happiness site,

“If you look at the amount of books on happiness that are popping up and the number of conferences around the world, it’s clear that people are sick and tired of dwelling on the negative and succumbing to a fear-based outlook. People want hope and more meaning in their lives, especially as the economic downturn highlights the mirage of materialism.”

“…People want to reconnect with something greater than themselves, however that is personally defined… also to connect with a community. There is an upsurge in volunteerism, even as paychecks are shrinking. People are waking up and wanting more. There’s a new sense that happiness is more real when it comes from within. No one can define your own path to happiness – it is a personal journey.”

…”We’re doing classes for parents, because it’s not enough for kids to light up and then go back home to the same old, same old, fear-based thinking. To have a real change, it has to be systemic…We want to spread the idea that we are all interdependent – we depend on each other more than we may realize. If we’re all in this together, (and we are), then, with the right skills and practices, it is in our power to make the choice to have life be better, kinder and happier for everyone.” –Randy Taran Project Happiness

Full disclosure, my CTO pal, Sky works for the DLFoundation which is how I found out about their Project Happiness documentary film, global educational programs and nonprofit org teaching social and emotional wellness…

Turns out they’re right out my back door in Palo Alto, Ca., so I’m excited about trying to make it Thursday, as I see some practical tools I could use! Like? Ways for parents to dial down the drama and get an exhale from some of the worries about peer conflict, school stresses, self-esteem and the almighty media, all those little daily dilemmas we manage to triage…

Ironically, Feb. 17 in San Mateo, the night prior, I’ll be attending the parent education PTSO event at Aragon High School where the head of the Addiction Institute,  Stephanie Brown, Ph.D. is speaking about prevention and masking of addiction, watch-worthy behavioral signs of anxiety, depression, physical complaints, etc.

Clearly this whole ‘happiness vs. unhappiness’ issue is something we all need to get a handle on…

So without further ado, here’s Project Happiness’ Director of Education, Abby Konopasky with her own blog post announcing the Feb. 18th event. …And her own blog that has some nuggets of wisdom you won’t want to miss, like this one, “Why Linoleum Is A Good Role Model For Kids Today” (hint: resiliency, baby! Reminds me of my post about Role Modeling Resiliency, kids and their coping skills)

…Which brings me back to the NCVA teams today, and why some flourish and find fun in most everything, while others turn ‘play’ into a chore.

Project Happiness Parent Workshop Feb. 18, 2010

Parents Deserve Happiness Too!

By Abby Konopasky, Ph.D., Dir. of Education-PH

Feb. 14th, 2010 I always knew Valentine’s Day was incredibly commercial, but at least it was commercialism aimed at me in the form of flowers, chocolates, etc. and that kind of servitude on the part of my husband made me happy.

But somehow, since I’ve become a parent, it now seems to be more and more about my kids! They are the ones getting chocolate and gifts. And all the cards I’m supposed to churn out as the mother of a preschooler! Valentine’s Day, like other holidays, is now becoming more of a parenting chore.

And when the scales get unbalanced and the chore part of parenting vastly outweighs the fun, in-the-moment part of parenting, all of a sudden both your own happiness and your child’s happiness suffers.

Now here comes my plug: Project Happiness, the nonprofit educational program I work for, has put together a workshop to offer parents some tools to nurture their own happiness and their children’s happiness. It’s this Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at our Palo Alto offices. E-mail me for info.

So if you’re trying to bounce back from the stress of preschool crafts, middle-school crushes, or high-school heartbreak, think about getting your happy on with us this week!

Abby Konopasky, Director of Education at Project Happiness

More Details About the Event from the PH News Release:

Happier Kids & Happier Parents

Project Happiness Parent Workshop

Palo Alto Thurs. Feb. 18th from 7 to 9 p.m.

Who: Project Happiness, a nonprofit educational program teaching social and emotional wellness ( is offering an empowering parent workshop at our offices in Palo Alto this Thursday evening Feb. 18, 2010.

This workshop focuses on resilience: the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences. Resilience is a key component in cultivating happiness. And whether it’s conscious or not, our children do look to us as models when they encounter difficulties. With that in mind, the workshop will begin by offering parents some real-life, usable tools for bouncing back. We then dive into some specific methods for gently nudging our children to use these tools themselves.

This interactive and fun workshop helps you practice the tools and make them your own. But the experience won’t end on Thursday: our materials give you ways to continue nurturing a resilient family, including suggestions for bringing teaching about social and emotional intelligence into your child’s school. For more info:

Fear less, hope more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things are yours.

— A Swedish proverb


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