This week, Monday, January 26th through Friday, January 30th, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) is collaborating with the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) to put on an initiative called The Happiness Project at BC. This campaign serves to promote small acts of kindness and the pursuit of genuine happiness on a campus where students often put on a happy face to mask their true feelings in everyday life.
"The point of this campaign is to start a conversation about what genuine happiness is, and to promote dialogue on campus," said Olivia Hussey of UGBC, who has played an integral role in the initiation and implementation of the Project. "We want to break down that perception of perfection by having students ask themselves what happiness is to them personally, what challenges they may need to overcome in order to be happy."
The inspiration for The Happiness Project at BC was Gretchen Rubin's book by the same name, which details the year that she dedicated to her own happiness, and has sparked a movement across the country and the world. The book spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, during which time it hit #1. It has sold more than 1.5 million copies and has been published in more than 30 languages, and rights to the project have been sold in 35 countries.
So, what does this mean in terms of the project's implementation at BC?
"Throughout the week, we will have tables set up in Mac, Lower, and the Rat dining halls, where volunteers will be handing out 'happiness tasks'," Hussey said. "If you take a pic of yourself completing the task that you are assigned and post it on the Project's Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to win a gift card to the BC bookstore."
Each dining hall location will also offer stickers, chocolates and customized coffee sleeves to promote the Project. In addition, the table in the Rat will feature an Instagram frame prop for photo opportunities.
Another aspect of this week is the "Happiness Wall," featured outside of O'Neill Library on middle campus.
"We are inviting students to come up to the wall and write what makes them happy, and what goals they will set for themselves in order to achieve that personal happiness," Hussey said.
Possibly the most significant part of the week, however, will be the "Happiness Talks" event, occurring on Tuesday, January 27th at 8 p.m. in Cushing 001 with Father Himes serving as the keynote speaker.
"After Father Himes, five student speakers--all from various years, clubs, and backgrounds--will be speaking about the challenges they have had to overcome, and how happiness and kindness have played into their life experiences, particularly here at BC," Hussey explained.
This initiative became possible due to the hard work and collaboration of a team of 12 students from UGBC, OHP, and the Be Conscious campaign. In addition, the university has been on board with the project since the start.
"Everyone we have talked to [from BC] has been so cooperative," Hussey said. "The campaign embodies a really great ideal of thinking about yourself as a person and what you can do for others by achieving your own happiness, which is very much along the lines of Jesuit ideals."
Moreover, Hussey attributes the idea of bringing The Happiness Project to BC to Xijun Zhu, A&S '15. Although she has taken a leave of absence this semester for personal reasons, the Project's team has been committed to making her idea a reality.
"My favorite aspect of and personal goal for the project is getting as many students as possible to take a second and do something to promote happiness, either for themselves or for someone else," Hussey said. "For me, sometimes it's hard to find genuine happiness here, but by focusing on the little things we can spread that goal across the BC community to have a more inclusive and positive campus."
In the end, the project's true goal is to promote positive mental health, and the essentiality of pursuing true happiness is something to which every person on the Boston College campus can relate.