Germany has a Ministry of Happiness and Wellbeing, and it is run by the inspiring Gina Schöler (pictured right). Gina previously blogged for us about the Ministry’s work and how it all got started. In this latest guest post Gina shares a brilliant new initiative running for International Day of Happiness 2017, called "Write Yourself Happy".
(For further International Day of Happiness news click here, and join many projects including Germany's Ministry of Happiness and Wellbeing, the Museum of Happiness and the Network of Wellbeing for a series of Facebook Live events on Monday 20th March).
By Gina Schöler
The Ministry of Happiness and Wellbeing offers a creative view on the wide field of happiness and wellbeing. As Minister of Happiness, I involve the community by playfully visualising insights and facts from happiness research and positive psychology, through (online and offline) ideas, events, actions and impulses, which are easily integrated in everyday life. That’s how happiness comes alive and everyone becomes a happiness ambassador themselves!
International Day of Happiness
20th March is the official International Day of Happiness. In my opinion, this Day is all about love, connection, faith, solidarity, humanity and connectivity (with yourself and others). I come up with a new idea to celebrate this special Day every year, to spread happiness and inspire people to take actions to increase happiness in general.
Earlier this year I was brainstorming what this year’s Happiness Day project could be about, when a former participant from one of my workshops and seminars, named Simone, emailed me. She was caught by the idea of spreading good vibes and designing happiness, and she is also really passionately in love with lyrics and poetry. So we came up with the idea to put these two subjects together: Happiness + writing.
The motivation behind this project is to bring more writing in to people’s lives and also to connect people to each other; give them chances to get to know each other in a very old school, almost forgotten way.
Imagine: Sitting down, slowing down, thinking, feeling, writing down your thoughts and feelings with real pencils and paper, letting time flow…
In this fast paced world, it often seems we have lost the ability to have a chat with a stranger on the street or in the supermarket. But with this campaign, called #schreibdichglücklich (#writeyourselfhappy), we want to give people the chance to connect with each other – through writing real letters again.
So we announced this really simple idea at the end of January 2017, with a few open questions: Who wants to write letters again? Who wants to get to know other people? Who wants to take time to create a personal way of sharing thoughts?
Within a few days our email-server was flooded. One month later we now have more than 3,700 people from 27 different countries all around the world, all wanting to simply write to each other about happiness! You can definitely see and feel the need of people to connect again in a real way.
To get started, participants got an impulse in the form of a question about themselves, happiness or life in general. For example:
- When was the last time you did something for the first time?
- What do you love most about other people?
- What do you think when you look into the mirror?
- What do you regret not having done?
Amazing feedback around the world
The feedback we have received about ‘write yourself happy’ has been so enthusiastic, and it is very touching. Even before the real action started, tons of thankful comments and pictures were arriving each day.
People are telling us how refreshing this idea is, at at time when everyone is always in a hurry, racing through life, at times being careless about each other, and often only communicating via smartphone. Writing an open letter to a total stranger requires a kind of courage, but it offers people an inspiring opportunity to connect, and it will potentially be surprising for people to find out how much strangers can have in common!
Now, people have started posting and receiving their happiness letters. The letters are finding their way through bills and advertising, and people are sharing photos of their letters via social media or via email to show how excited they are to receive a letter from a total stranger.
Suddenly there is a connection. Out of nowhere – because two humans are sharing thoughts and are communicating. As simple that; this is what happiness can look like.
People’s comments included things like:
- "Finding like-minded people and to support connectivity is simply beautiful. Human, caring. Thank you for this inspiration!"
- "The world desperately needs more inspirations like this!“
- "I am so happy to participate and I do hope I can open hearts with my words to make this world a little bit better.”
Try it out by yourself!
You can combine writing and happiness in many different ways in your daily life. One of my favorite random acts of kindness is leaving small notes, quotes or questions just around the corner: On a car, another letterbox, on a street lamp or elsewhere. Make someone smile because of your words. Or write a letter to an old friend, or say hello to your parents with a self-made card – you will see the outcome. Happiness is contagious!
Who knows which impacts this simple idea is going to have? When 3,714 people are writing back and forth, nearly 7500 letters will cross the world. I am impatiently waiting for the first couple falling in love because of a happy act from the Ministry of happiness and wellbeing.
#schreibdichglücklich is a cooperation of the Ministerium für Glück und Wohlbefinden and Poesieapotheke.
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