Category Archives: Uncategorized

10 Things Creative People Do

Originally published in the Huffington Post – May 12th, 2014 Have you ever wondered why some people are more creative than others? Did you ever wish that you had more of that particular gene? The good news is that researchshows that happiness and creativity are not only related, they can be developed. Here are 10 ways to jumpstart your creativity, starting now: 1. Listen In: Listen to your intuition and capture your new ideas. Whether from your morning shower, nighttime dreams, when … Continue reading

Conversation with Terri Feinberg, Educator – Agent of Happiness

Terri Feinberg is an Educator at Ohlone Elementary school in Palo Alto. Terri was instrumental in developing K-5 curriculum and for bringing the staff and administration at Ohlone together for implementation of the program. A psychologist by training, Terri believes that the basic building blocks of Project Happiness can bring a huge change to the lives of children and adults. Here’s a full transcript of conversation between Seema Handu and Terri Feinberg. SH: How and where did you hear about … Continue reading

Conversation with Angel Gustavo Ruiz, Latin America Program Director – Agent of Happiness

Prof. Angel Gustavo Ruiz is the President and Founder of Circulo de Estudios del Nuevo Pensamiento AC and Program Director of Project Happiness in Latin America. Gustavo Ruiz also started International Day of Happiness (www.internationalhappinessday.org), a collaboration between Project Happiness and Club de la Felicidad, as a movement to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world. Here’s a transcript of conversation between Seema Handu (COO at Project Happiness) and Gustavo … Continue reading

Happiness Now: What Do the U.N., Pharrell and Ellen Have in Common?

Originally published in the Huffington Post – March 19th, 2014 From Pharrell William’s song “Happy” at the top of the Billboard chart, to Ellen’s “I am Happy” hoodie, worn backstage at the Oscars, happiness is in the news. Thursday, March 20 is the second official U.N. sanctioned International Day of Happiness, andpeople all around the globe are taking the opportunity to focus on happiness. From Nigeria to Mexico, from Australia to the U.K., just to name a few… individuals, families and communities … Continue reading

Conversation with Hector Estrada – Agent of Happiness

Hector Estrada is a true Agent of Happiness. Born in Mexico, he arrived in the United States with only a dream. He wanted to express his authentic self and create beauty. Against all odds, he started a life and step by step gained confidence, skills and a community. From the start he gave back, through volunteering. Dealing with his own early trauma and challenges only strengthened his desire to be there for others. We are grateful to Hector for sponsoring … Continue reading

Making New Year’s Resolutions: Tap Into the Power of Intention

Originally published in the Huffington Post – December 31st, 2013 Have you ever set your New Year’s resolutions only to find a few months after that you lost interest, moved onto something more urgent or just ditched the idea altogether? It’s not enough to set goals — what’s missing is tapping into your intention. Here are five ways to help you achieve your resolutions, and enjoy the journey along the way. The Myth of New Year’s Resolutions A new year … Continue reading

Choosing Happiness When Living With a Brain Tumor

Project Happiness supporter Rebecca Acquisto recently shared with us how she finds happiness in the face of the most difficult life circumstances. May we all draw inspiration from Rebecca’s story and choose happiness, daily.  How to be happy when living with a Brain Tumor Before September 3rd 2013, I was a 54-year-old widow living alone and working full time as a lead therapist at a local community hospital.  My children were grown and living on their own.  I had a lovely … Continue reading

The Healing Power of Nature

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” -John Muir In my last blog on the growing numbers of kids being diagnosed with ADHD, I wondered out loud about the potential negative effects in our modern culture of things like: too much time spent indoors, too little sun and exercise, too many electronics, and not enough sleep. Rather than dwell on the causes of … Continue reading

Cyberbullying Apps — Why Are We Allowing Anonymous Cruelty?

Originally published in the Huffington Post – September 18, 2013 Last month, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick jumped from a platform at an abandoned cement factory to her death after being tormented online and through cellphone apps. Suicide victims are getting younger all the time. What will it take for us as a society to take responsibility, rather than blaming bullies, apathetic schools or clued-out parents? This is a systemic problem and we are all contributing: either by our silence or by … Continue reading

The First-Ever Happiness Conference in Romania

On October 5th, Randy traveled to Romania to speak at the very first conference on happiness in South-East Europe, in Bucharest! Below she shares a small snapshot of her experience teaching happiness enhancing techniques to a room of 300+ attendees:  When I was invited to speak at the first-ever conference on happiness in South-East Europe, I did not have an idea what Romania would have in store. The warmth, professionalism, and sense of openness that greeted me was incredible. Malina … Continue reading

April Fools’ Day: Your Excuse to Lighten Up!

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Originally published in the Huffington Post – April 1, 2013 What if April 1 was more than a day to do pranks on others; what if it was a reminder to laugh at ourselves? How many people deal with the pressure to be perfect? That can be a big burden that proves unsatisfying even when we get close to the “goal.” When people take themselves so seriously, they shut down a vital part of themselves. April Fools’ Day provides the … Continue reading

Common Ground Magazine Sings Praises of Project Happiness

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When Randy Taran’s eldest daughter was a teenager, she approached her mother with a very serious concern: she was stressed out, and while she wanted to be happy, she didn’t know how. Taran, heartbroken and unsure of how to respond to or guide her daughter, first sought the guidance of experts and soon ended up as a visionary leader in the happiness movement. Her pain as a bewildered parent ultimately led her to found the Palo-Alto-based nonprofit Project Happiness which, … Continue reading

Mother’s Day: Gifts from the Heart

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Have you ever received gifts that were fun in the moment but lost their allure almost as fast as you unwrapped the package? Material gifts may satisfy short-term desires, but it is the human connection that leaves a lasting impression. Instead of going to the store to buy Mom another bottle of perfume, think about creating a memory instead. Here are three easy ways: 1) The gift of experience A sure-fire happiness amplifier is to create a time when you … Continue reading

How can you find happiness in times like these?

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I have spent a ton of time lately thinking about how to find happiness in times like these. I think about all the different situations that surround so many people in my life. So how can you find happiness when: you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your house, your child is dying, your child has an incurable condition, you have cancer, your parent just died of cancer, or you are getting divorced? Those are just some examples. How can you … Continue reading

5 Steps to Happiness

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From the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-taran/steps-to-happiness_b_957876.html Some people set New Year’s resolutions, but I find this season, as school starts again, to be a perfect time for new beginnings. Right now I am thinking of setting some intentions, and I invite you to do the same. As the autumn leaves fall, consider shedding old habits that no longer serve you. It’s a great time to focus on who you are and what practices will grow your happiness. What are the attitudes … Continue reading

TONIGHT! California Film Institute presents Project Happiness!!!

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We are thrilled to premiere the Project Happiness film at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Theater tonight in San Rafael, California! Tonights presentation is sponsored by the California Film Institute and will include a Q&A with Project Happiness creator Randy Taran as well as some very special guests. We hope to see you there! You can still get tickets by visiting the California Film Institute’s web site or you can purchase them at the box office tonight. Here are all … Continue reading

Mother’s Day Gifts from the Heart

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From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-taran/mothers-day-gifts-from-th_b_858350.html Have you ever received gifts that were fun in the moment but lost their allure almost as fast as you unwrapped the package? Material gifts may satisfy short-term desires, but it is the human connection that leaves a lasting impression. Instead of going to the store to buy Mom another bottle of perfume, think about creating a memory instead. Here are three easy ways: 1) The gift of experience A sure-fire happiness amplifier is to … Continue reading

The Advantages of Adversity

Lance Armstrong survived cancer and went on to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times.

Adversity is critical to growth and happiness for so many reasons. First, adversity provides variety in life. See, from a broader perspective, there really is no bad weather. There may be lots of clouds one day or no clouds at all, the sky may be gray or it may be a brilliant blue, the sun may be shining or it may be raining. But there are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, good things and bad things about all kinds … Continue reading

Self-Compassion 101: Rethinking the Golden Rule

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From the HuffingtonPost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-taran/self-compassion_b_832602.html Is it selfish to have compassion for yourself? On an airplane, you are asked to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can help other people. Self-compassion is like that too. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be fully equipped to help others. Doing a sport you love, enjoying nature, exploring your creativity or connecting with others are all paths to self-compassion. But let’s look under the surface. The … Continue reading

Project Love – “Love is in the Air” – Valentine’s Day at Stanford

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“Love is in the Air”- Valentine’s Day at Stanford By Lauren Linsmayer and Andrew ‘Phoenix’ Dao Got love? On Valentine’s Day, the answer was a resounding “yes” in White Plaza, the student quad at Stanford. Project[Love], a student group committed to fostering compassion on campus through random acts of kindness, turned a day which is typically about buying expensive flowers and writing love sonnets for one person into one about spreading joy and love to all. The idea was simple … Continue reading

Want to get your kids into college? Let them play…:)

The power of play as an academic advantage?  A Harvard team says Yes!  Here’s a thought provoking article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/29/christakis.play.children.learning/index.html Want to get your kids into college? Let them play… By Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis, Special to CNN December 29, 2010 7:57 a.m. EST STORY HIGHLIGHTS Erika and Nicholas Christakis says they see students at Harvard who have trouble getting along They say kids better equipped to learn, interact, if taught using play-based curricula “Drill and kill” skill-based learning, requires more … Continue reading

Got Happiness? 10 Easy Ways to Make Your Goals Stick

From the Huffington Post   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-taran/got-happiness-10-easy-way_b_818519.html Want a happier year? Having goals can fast track you there. Yes, sometimes life can get in the way; old ingrained patterns can infiltrate good intentions. What to do? Here are 10 easy ways to help rebuild those neural pathways, so that the new goals on your happiness journey can stick. 1.  Have a Big Enough Reason: The “why” you are even undertaking a goal has to be important. It’s not enough to say “I … Continue reading

Upcoming Stanford Conference: Happiness within Reach

Participate in Stanford’s first conference about cultivating emotional well being. Learn the science and art of awakening deep happiness, love, compassion and vibrant health. Speakers include:  Paul Ekman, Randy Taran, Jim Doty, Rick Hanson, Fred Luskin and other luminaries in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and the arts.  Everyday People too!http://www.stanford.edu/dept/rde/scs/happiness_conference/happinesswithinreach/Welcome.html

Randy on College Bound and Determined

Catch a recent interview in which Randy discusses applications of social and emotional learning for families with college bound kids! http://webtalkradio.net/2011/01/31/college-bound-determined-%e2%80%93-how-to-build-the-foundation-for-a-solid-college-search/

Happiness Flourishes in Nigeria

Emmanuel Ivorgba, Founder of Creative Minds International Academy, has brought Project Happiness to over 600 students in Nigeria. We are so grateful for his commitment and dedication! Project Happiness is being used as part of the values education class in CMIA and as an after school program in multiple schools, 9 so far! Emmanuel was an important member of the founding group of schools who met in India to have a private audience with the Dalai Lama on the nature of happiness. (See film … Continue reading

From Huffington Post: Want to Stop the Bullying? It Starts at Home

Parents, it’s time to smell the coffee. We’re trying to get the schools to teach our kids not to allow bullying, but the problems are escalating; it’s no longer enough to leave the responsibility in the schools’ hands. No parent wants their child to be bullied. And, no one intentionally teaches their child to become a bully. We all want the best for our kids. This is why it’s interesting to take a look at the subtle bullying messages that … Continue reading

5 Happiness Tips that Every Student Needs to Know

I founded a Project Happiness to provide young people with the skills to live happier lives. In the wake of the uproar around the state of education, here are 5 Tips that every student and parent needs to know. These simple points can help any student right now. 1. Academic intelligence is great, but emotional intelligence allows you to ride the ups and downs of life. There’s a call today to radically transform education, by fixing schools and hiring better … Continue reading

Happy Schools = Healthy Kids

We’ve had a busy summer here at Project Happiness — we created THREE (yes, 3!) articulated programs to go with the curriculum, did our first teacher training, and taught our first CEU. But we’re not the type of people to rest upon our laurels (and, honestly, who’d want to? Have you seen laurel bushes? They do not look comfy!), so we’re off to our next challenge. And that challenge is to bring many of the resources from Harvard’s most popular … Continue reading

First-Ever Project Happiness Continuing Education Course!

Project Happiness is thrilled to announce that, in partnership with Alliant University, we are launching an online continuing education course on July 12th entitled “Exploring Positivity in Classroom Management: A Curriculum of Wellness.” This course (2.5 CEU’s) will give teachers — new and old teachers, Project Happiness facilitators and others, science and art teachers, public and private school teachers — a chance to enliven their teaching practice with the positive psychology, mindfulness and wellness practices that Project Happiness does so … Continue reading

Reflecting on Struggle: Reaching out to those with depression, Part 3

I have to say this is my FAVORITE part of the discussion with Nina, because it’s here where we explore the relationship between the illness, ‘depression,’ and the wellness practices of Project Happiness. Here’s how Nina (who knows a LOT about psychology, as you’ll see if you listen!) lays it out: Learning to be aware of your emotions, to regulate your emotions, and to separate your emotional response from reality are critical skills for depression PREVENTION and depression RECOVERY. Learning … Continue reading

Day 10: What’s making you happy?

Doing Sunday dinner dishes. I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit…but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less. But let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules and although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words, … Continue reading

Reflecting on Struggle: Reaching out to those with depression, Part 2

In the second installment of our podcast series on reaching out to those with depression, Nina Poe (see her blog on her own depression journey here) talks about her journey as a teenager struggling with depression. It was in fact partly this teenage experience that motivated Nina to start her blog. In ‘coming out of the closet’ as someone who has suffered from depression, she hopes to get people – parents, teachers, doctors, friends – to talk about depression, take … Continue reading

Day 9: What’s making you happy?

Early symptoms of World Cup fever. I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit…but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less. But let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules and although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In … Continue reading

Day 8: What’s making you happy?

Dancing on Friday night! I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less. But let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules and although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other … Continue reading

Day 7: What’s making you happy today?

A friendly & kind shop clerk I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less. But let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules and although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” … Continue reading

Day 6: What’s making you happy?

A stranger becoming my friend. I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less. But let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules and although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In … Continue reading

Day 5: What’s making you happy?

A handful of almonds! I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less-let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules. And although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words, happy … Continue reading

Day 4: What’s making you happy?

A Sunday promenade in Berkeley. I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less-let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules. And although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words, … Continue reading

Day 3: What’s making you happy?

A freshly, washed and cleaned car. What a difference! I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less-let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules. And although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, wire … Continue reading

Day 2: What’s making you happy?

The great cup of coffee I had this morning was bliss. Bliss, I tells-ya! I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less-let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules. And although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity is like Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, … Continue reading

Day 1: What’s making you happy?

Knowing I’m a father-to-be is making my heart glow! I read somewhere it takes 30 days to create a new habit but when I find great ice-cream, like Bi-Rite’s salted caramel, it just takes one scoop or less-Let’s be rational, ice-cream breaks a lot of rules. And although we all want more happiness in our lives, negativity seems to have Velcro fastening itself to our thoughts. Neuroscience gives us a strategy with this bit of wisdom, “Neurons that fire together, … Continue reading

Reflecting on Struggle: Reaching out to those with depression, Part 1

In this second series of podcasts, I interview Nina Poe, the author of the blog “Reflection on Depression” (at reflectionondepression.typepad.com). As readers of the Project Happiness Handbook know, there is no magic bullet for happiness and this is doubly true for those suffering from clinical depression. But as compassionate people — whether we are friends, parents, teachers or mentors — we can reach out to those struggling with depression and help connect them with the professional resources to heal. And … Continue reading

Australia’s Social and Emotional Learning Advocate

An update on happychild.com.au’s Yvette Vignando: she managed to secure herself a visit with the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, during which she made her case for more Project-Happiness-type social and emotional learning in Australia’s schools. Go to http://ow.ly/1A292 to hear an interview about her visit with the prime minister on ABC Newcastle. We at Project Happiness are so grateful for her tireless work on behalf of Australia’s students — go, Yvette!

How Teachers Can Tame the Elephant in the Room: Dr. Brooks on Resilience, Part 5

In this installment, Dr. Brooks helps teachers tame the elephant in the classroom: fear of making mistakes and being humiliated. This fear is so strong that it can severely interfere with learning. Dr. Brooks offers a proactive resilient approach in which teachers address these fears directly and lead students in problem-solving to make the classroom a safe space. He also gives some tips on true discipline as discipleship/teaching: using his latest book (‘Raising a Self-Disciplined Child‘) as a touch point, … Continue reading

Why are Resilient People Usually Happy?: Dr. Brooks on Resilience, Part 4

Here Dr. Brooks and I finally make the connection between resilience and happiness. Some of the key components of resilience — identifying and displaying your strengths, helping others, and solving problems — are also things that bring satisfaction and long-term happiness. [podcast]http://projecthappiness.org/wp-content/uploads/brooksfourthinstallment.mp3[/podcast] Project Podcast: Take-Aways for Parents and Teachers After listening to the podcast, fill out our ‘Mentoring Resilience & Happiness’ questionnaire. And keep working on appreciating your gifts and appreciating children’s gifts. Compassion for yourself and the kids in … Continue reading

We All Have “Islands of Competence”: Dr. Brooks on Resilience, Part 3

******* In the third installment of our resilience podcast series, Dr. Brooks explains his powerful metaphor, islands of competence (see this article on his site for a powerful story about a parent applying islands of competence in her life). As a strength-based model of psychology was starting to emerge, Dr. Brooks began to think about helping parents and children in terms of leading them out of the “sea of self-perceived inadequacy” onto an “island of competence.” Dr. Brooks’ Podcast on … Continue reading

In Search of the Charismatic Adult: Dr. Brooks on Resilience, Part 2

In this second installment of our podcast series on resilience, Dr. Brooks and I discuss the importance of the “charismatic adult” in a child’s life (a term coined by Dr. Julius Segal — see this article or check out his Amazon bibliography for more info): that adult who believes in and stands by a child through adversity. Dr. Brooks traces his career path as he began to ask, “Why do some children who grow up under poverty and racism, undergo … Continue reading

Project Happiness’ Podcast Kick-Off

Welcome to our very first podcast. This series of podcasts will give parents and educators tips for leading a happier, healthier life. And we’re starting with Dr. Robert Brooks (see his website for an archive of helpful articles, info on speaking engagements, and lots of resources for parents and teachers), a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, a world-renowned expert in childhood resilience, a national and international lecturer, and respected author of some extremely helpful and hopeful books … Continue reading

Putting Out the Fire of Parental Anxiety: Happychild.com.au’s Supportive Community

What Yvette probably didn’t hear about was the stunning range of temperaments we find in our kids. And what Yvette got was 3 boys who are utterly different temperamentally, emotionally and socially. Meanwhile, traditional parenting books tend to focus on the negative – ‘solving’ disciplinary ‘problems’ – instead of the positive gifts our children bring to the table.

But Yvette didn’t give too much credence to these books and, a decade later, her journey as a parent and a professional has led her to create happychild.com.au – a website providing resources and support to parents on raising kids with Emotional Intelligence. Like the Project Happiness Handbook, happychild.com.au focuses on building social and emotional skills. And (also like Project Happiness!), happychild.com.au is not about what parents are doing wrong, but about supporting parents as they do their best to raise happy children who will live up to their full, bright and wondrous potential. Continue reading

10 Juicy* Happiness Tips

Stress Less, Enjoy more! Have you or someone you care about ever wanted more happiness in your life? Here are 10 tips that can make a real difference: 1. Hug someone or be hugged, pet your pet, hold hands, cuddle. 2. Ask  1 or 2 people who know you well and care about you what they see as your 3 greatest strengths. Do the same for them. 3. When something bad happens you can choose to put yourself down or … Continue reading

365 Days of Happiness: Serendipity 40 Years in the Making

Over the weekend, I experienced a moment of serendipity. It was 40 years in the making. My mother often recalled the summer World Cup of 1970 on the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico, when a stranger with tears streaming down his face walked-up to her and embraced her. He held her tight and cried. And then she cried. And then he was gone. Over the past weekend, I met a very nice man from Brazil. “Bon-jia!” I greeted him. “Brazilero?” he … Continue reading

365 Days of Happiness: Thailand-Knowing Happiness and Living Happiness

Living in San Francisco’s multi-cultural kaleidoscope has a way of inducing a sense of familiarity with the unfamiliar. The ubiquitous Thai restaurants in San Francisco gave me a false familiarity with Thailand. I left feeling excited and confident but by the second day in Bangkok I was experiencing a crisis of sorts. I wandered through the narrow streets, without a map, comforted only by the knowing that a Tuk Tuk could ferry me back to my luggage—the only anchor I … Continue reading

365 Days of Happiness: Happiness, Haiti & Chile

The philosopher Emmanuel Kant spent nearly 11 years thinking about experience. His master work, Critique of Pure Reason, is often condensed into brief lectures that deal with the relationship between the spectator and the spectacle. Haiti. Chile. For the last month I have been a spectator. The earthquakes that have devastated so many lives did not happen to me and yet it did. In the days and weeks immediately after each earthquake, the media industry became relevant. The apparatus that … Continue reading

356 Days of Happiness: Winter Olympic Blues

The Winter Olympics seem to trigger very complex emotions, more so than other major sporting events. I wonder if it’s the long winter, the cold rain, or holiday echoes that predispose me to glistening eyes and pangs of melancholic joy. I was not a Winter Olympics fan. Four years ago my sweetheart forced me to watch the opening ceremony of the Turin games. I complained until the Chinese figure skaters Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao took the ice. Her decision … Continue reading

Notes from the Education Desk: 5 Ways to Reduce Brain Dead-ness[1]

I had started a blog on the clean slate, the promise, and the possibilities that the New Year bring. But then I just didn’t have the brain power to finish it…. I’m hearing similar complaints of brain dead-ness from facilitators, friends, family and even my 4-year-old daughter. Holiday travel and socializing can be incredibly rewarding and fun, but even that positive energy expended is energy nonetheless and a lot of us are heading into 2010 with our tanks moving towards … Continue reading

The Handbook: How Will You Use It?

Tracy Bianchi, School Counselor/Faculty Member Menlo School Menlo Park, California A recipient of Project Happiness’ 2009 Radiant Heart Award for outstanding teaching, Tracy makes use of her dual roles as teacher and counselor to give students tools for resilience, self-awareness and wellness. Her positivity and energy are infectious, creating a school climate of acceptance. Adolescence is a time when one’s self-esteem can be greatly influenced.  Tracy is using the Project Happiness Handbook to make sure this peer influence positively supports students, nurturing confident and … Continue reading

Cirque de Happiness…The Celebration Continues

What an evening! The colors, the food, the wine…and better yet, the company! Thank you everyone who attended Cirque de Happiness. We celebrated the culmination of a spectacular year while setting the stage for another year of greater health and happiness. Since initiating our pilot program in fall 2008, over 1,500 young people have participated at elementary, middle, and high schools.  The demand keeps growing as teachers, parents, and individuals from all walks of life and all parts of the … Continue reading

Radiant Heart Awards

Educating the Heart; Educating the Mind Educating the Heart; Educating the Mind The Radiant Heart Awards are yearly awards given to two select individuals whose contribution to the education of our youth includes compassion, kindness, and love. These year’s honorees are Oram Ramirez and Tracy Bianchi. Oram Ramirez is a teacher at Marshall Elementary in San Francisco’s Mission District. We honor his commitment to educating global citizens; introducing young minds and hearts to themselves and guiding his students through the … Continue reading

Appreciating as an Action

So, no surprise that on Thanksgiving, as on any other day, I was caught up in the language of the occasion. In particular, I began wondering about the name of the holiday itself, Thanksgiving. Even someone without a degree in linguistics could tell you that it comes from giving thanks.[1] But the general public might not know how much complex appreciative action is hidden inside this humble noun (in addition the action of removing toddler-sized cranberry sauce prints from your … Continue reading

A Challenge Worthy of One’s Gifts

While I still have to remind myself to take a deep breath and calm down, I think I do pretty well when faced with challenges these days. The other day I managed a work phone call while assisting my 3-year-old on the potty and making sure my 1-year-old didn’t unroll the entire toilet paper roll (half, maybe…). So I think I’m doing pretty well. But as an adolescent I did not respond well to challenge – I saw it as … Continue reading

Implementing Project Happiness: Paddling Downstream

(See the end of the post for important Handbook ordering info!) September 21, 2009 By now almost everybody is back at school (including those people on the quarter system who like to make everyone else feel jealous in August and early September!) and in the thick of things. I am incredibly pleased to report that we have more than twenty schools using The Project Happiness Handbook so far and that there are even more getting ready to take the plunge. … Continue reading

YOUR turn!

HI EVERYONE! WE NEED YOU! It’s time for Project Happiness to have its identifying catch-phrases, taglines, descriptions, etc… and we want you to help us decide which ones are best! We are looking for… CATCHY (grabs people in) and CLEAR (describes what we’re about) and FUN!  Follow this link to a quick 30 second survey (made on surveyMONKEY, which is so fun btw, see little surveymonkey icon to the left) to help us decide HOW we project ourselves out to … Continue reading

HUG it out!

Last week Rolando and I went to Marshall Elementary in SF’s Mission District to work with the 3rd graders like we do every Friday. Our topic was acceptance. We showed them the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4 to introduce them to the idea of accepting of each other, of welcoming everyone, and of connecting with each other. After showing this clip, we talked about how hugs are a good way to show acceptance and to connect with other people. Three of little boys who often … Continue reading

Field Report: In the Trenches of Social Networking

If ending our face-to-face interactions were as simple as it is in the digital sphere. I guess one can say that the ‘Talk to the hand’ fad predated the ‘un-friend’ option on Facebook. The velocity of the people we come in contact online with is so great. It’s a bit like standing on the train platform and knowing a bit about each person that passes. The latest social networking site to explode into the scene is Twitter. FYI: The day … Continue reading

Transcending the Intellectual

Over the weekend, a notion that has intrigued me ever since I read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, now, nearly four years ago, re-introduced itself in my thoughts. It is on the necessary step to transcend the intellectual ideas about peace and enlightenment to embrace the experiential. I was fresh out of Berkeley when I read the Power of Now, and the descent from the Ivory Tower into working life was very rough. I was experiencing extreme disillusionment … Continue reading

The Alchemist: Susan Boyle

The Alchemist: Susan Boyle Even the name, Susan Boyle, when I read it on someone’s Facebook profile, caused an automatic disinterest, when I learned she was somehow associated with Britain’s Got Talent show, I downright crumpled the notion of following the link and wasting my precious time. The constant mentions in various media outlets, reinforced my interest. By mid-afternoon, as my second cup of coffee wore my mind into a modicum of unproductive window screen shuffling, I logged onto YouTube. … Continue reading

My Quick Strategy for Happiness

My Quick Strategy for Happiness Recently when I am feeling a bit sluggish or contemplating the darker spectrum of things, I like to log into youtube and listen to these songs. I move on after a few weeks. For example a few months ago during Christmas, I was listening to American Boy by Estelle featuring Mr. West. 2008 Holiday memories are forever laced with that tune. Human by The Killers: “Are we human or are we dancers?” I love the … Continue reading

Cassandra’s Curse

Cassandra’s Curse The dreaded doomsday scenario is now. Each day, by the hour, reports confirming the warning scientists and environmentalist have made for decades are broadcasted to populations and individuals responsible for and experiencing the consequences of our inactions or rather our bizarre actions. The late George Carlin said it best when he poked fun of the sudden and immediate need to carry bottled water. Several years later and millions of pounds of plastic in landfills later, well here we … Continue reading

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste!

   While flipping through “Ode” magazine last night (a magazine on positive change- http://www.odemagazine.com/), a title of an article caught my eye, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” I didn’t even read the article. The title alone had a strong impact on me. Seeing those words, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” reminded me of something I truly believe, which is: opportunity comes in the face of crisis.   What opportunity can a crisis bring you? Opportunities to change, … Continue reading

Is it magic?

My mind is still tickled by this. One of the kids at Marshall elementary when asked to draw doing that will bring her great happiness, drew a soccer ball, net and goalkeeper. The score board in her picture was 4-2. As we reviewed the pictures with the entire class, one of the kids pointed to her picture and said, “That was the score for your game!” It took a few seconds for the other kids to realize what was going … Continue reading

The cold that warms

Last Friday the Happy Squad; Kristen, Ellie, Rolando, and I went to Menlo Atherton for what was definitely one of my favorite classes.  It started with a hands-on activity from the Project Happiness handbook, which I hope everyone takes the time to try.   Hold a cube of ice in your palm for as long as possible, and whenever you decide, drop it. Even though the idea sounds simple enough the quagmire of emotional learning that it enables you to … Continue reading

Noticing thoughts, feelings, actions

The other day we went in to the Menlo-Atherton Junior/Senior Leadership classroom, like we do every week. This time our topic was “THINK, FEEL, ACT.”  How do thoughts influence feelings? How do feelings influence our actions? How do actions influence our thoughts? Basically, we looked at how they all affect each other, in what order do they affect each other, and when is one (thinking, feeling, or acting) more predominate? And most importantly, do we notice how they all interact … Continue reading

Viva La Music

A few months ago as I wrote a personal meditation, I reached a moment of clarity about the forces that rule my life. I was writing on the essence of time and space. I was writing the lamentations uttered by many before me when I realized there was something missing in my thought process. I was thinking about how reality and these two forces orchestrate and organize our experience. Time and space, really, if you think about it, organize the … Continue reading

It Begins in Your Heart and Radiates Out

Field Report: Marshall Elementary Our visit to Marshal Elementary on Friday morning was, one of my most significant moments since joining Project Happiness. Ellie and I were there promptly at 8:30 and enjoyed the school’s Friday morning assembly that included singing and general fun. From the announcements, it was clear that the economic crisis is wreaking havoc on the community. Teachers wore pink in solidarity with the 25,000 teachers who have received pink slips so far in the state of … Continue reading

Kristen Top Played Music.

Music is the vernacular of the human soul. – Geoffrey Latham Music is the shorthand of emotion. – Leo Tolstoy I want to share with you my favorite songs. I really believe that music is one of the greatest influences on your happiness and emotions. These songs are not necessarily “happy,” but to me they are so beautiful that they are worth listening to. When I listen to these songs, they bring me back to times I have listened to … Continue reading

Glimmers of Happiness

Writing for me is painfully embarrassing I know that I’m no Shakespeare or Thoreau, yet I keep typing and try to channel Carrie Bradshaw, from “Sex and the City”, because in some way I hope that honesty and my public display of writing insecurity can affect at least one person.   My happiness inquiry of this week is the notion of how happiness resonates differently for people. For me lasting happiness is appreciating the little things in life that we … Continue reading

Happiness is everywhere!

Project Happiness is everywhere BECAUSE happiness itself is everywhere. I went to the grocery store the other day to buy food and supplies- you know, the weekly stock up. Nothing exciting. Tissues were on my list. Buying tissues isn’t normally a noteworthy experience; it’s just part of the routine that goes along with perpetually bad allergies. This time was different. I went to the tissue aisle to grab whichever box had the most pink on it (my usual strategy), but … Continue reading

Hey everyone!

Hi everyone! I’m Ellie. I just joined the Project Happiness team, after moving to California a couple months ago- I’m from Michigan but just graduated from college on the East Coast. When people ask me why I moved to California, my first reaction is always… I don’t know! I just had a sense, a gut feeling I guess you could call it, that there was something for me out here that I wouldn’t be able to find where I was. … Continue reading

Celebrate the Distance

Project Happiness Weekly Meditation: January 19-23 Today we will listen to one of Lorraine’s mediations. Lorraine Rushton is one of the many angels that has visited and committed to supporting Project Happiness with her many gifts. The meditation is 8 minutes long so make yourself comfortable. Enjoy n’ share! Before we break and resume our duties I will like to share a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet who is, in my opinion Rumi’s spiritual sibling…but aren’t we … Continue reading

No Direction Home?

When I was a wee boy I couldn’t spend enough time with my dad or my mom. I remember crying during a field trip with my kindergarten class. It was a surprise field-trip that took us just beyond the fields behind the church, a boundary my mom explicitly set. I grew up in the countryside around Guadalajara, Mexico, so our town was a giant playground complete with ogres and trolls. Anyways…I digress… Something about crossing that boundary created a huge … Continue reading

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