In early 2009, Edwin Edebiri set out to shift people’s mind from the doom and gloom that dominates the news and focus instead on happiness. He did this by approaching random strangers and posing two questions: “How happy are you, on a scale of 1 to 10, and what are two or three things that make you happy?” One man initially insisted he didn’t have time to talk, but then told Edebiri he had nothing to be happy about. Edebiri shared some of the answers from other people he had spoken with. The pair ended up talking for half an hour.
“He called the next day to thank me,” Edebiri said. “He said when I stopped him he was on his way to commit suicide. Instead, he went home and wrote 29 things he was hopeful for on the back of his suicide note.”
That phone call prompted Edebiri, of Corning, Calif., to start the I Am Happy Project, with a mission to “spread happiness globally, one person at a time.” There are now I Am Happy project groups in 62 cities and 18 nations.
Edebiri has talked to more than 1,000 people about happiness in the past year. Based on their answers, he has come up with a list of 10 concrete things people can do to become happier. One of his goals is to give away freely 1,000,000 of these cards with the hope that it will make the world a happier place.
Actually, happiness is contagious. Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California-San Diego have found that in social networks, happiness spreads virally among people as much as three degrees removed from one another.
We are having an impact on our communities around the world. From helping to wrap gifts for children in Davis, California to visiting seniors in Chicago Illinois, to visiting orphanage homes in New Delhi, Indian and Benin city, Nigeria, I Am Happy Project is spreading happiness around the world.
“Do not allow the past or the future to rob you of your present.” Says Edwin Edebiri, the Chief Happiness Officer