While many of UGBC’s campaigns aim to focus on issues that may be more serious or personal, the group makes sure to set aside an entire week to emphasize the importance of happiness in all different aspects of student life. Enter the Happiness Project, a week-long campaign in collaboration with UGBC and the Office of Health Promotion. Composed of different events and tables set up around campus, the Happiness Project is geared to promote a campus culture of positivity and authenticity.
“In these stressful, darker winter months, the Happiness Project comes in and helps make campus a little more upbeat and light,” says Theresa Rager, MCAS ’17, this year’s coordinator of the project. “But we also want to promote this idea that not everything comes easily and we’re here to support you.”
Each day the project focuses on a different level of happiness, starting with personal happiness on Monday. On Monday night, the campaign kicked off with the What I Be Project closing ceremony, presented by the UGBC Mental Health Spotlight. The ceremony featured students from the What I Be Project who shared the stories behind their photos and talked about what it means to be happy internally, and coming to terms with yourself and your own personal happiness.
“There’s this idea that everyone needs to be the idealistic, effortless, perfect BC student,” says Rager, “but what’s important is being authentic to who you are and what your true emotions are.”
On Tuesday, the campaign continues in partnership with Agape Latte. At Fr. Terry Devino’s “Love Yourself” talk in Hillside Cafe at 8:30 p.m., the focus shifts to happy, healthy relationships and happiness in regard to interactions with others. Wednesday brings a focus on campus community and promoting a happy campus culture, when the project will partner with CAB for cookie decorating in the Rat from 11-2.
On Thursday comes the issue of happiness in society, and the Happiness Project has teamed up with The Gavel to put the spotlight on Authentic Eagles. At this event, student speakers, or seniors who have written Authentic Eagles pieces in the past semester, will have a chance to talk about their pieces and what authenticity means to them. On Friday, the campaign tackles happiness around the world and within different cultures, even giving students the chance to participate in a campus-wide Zumba class held in Gasson’s Irish Hall.
“It’s really important to acknowledge that we’re a part of BC, but then part of such a big world outside of that,” says Rager. “We have to ask less of what the world can do to make us happy, but what we can do for the general happiness of our society.”
The Happiness Project aims to help BC students take this step toward happiness, whether on a personal or global scale. Tables will be set up each day of the week, either in the Rat or in Mac, where volunteers will be giving out stress balls, candy, and many other assorted happy goodies.
“We have a lot of events, which is where all our collaborators come in,” adds Rager. For example, the project is also working in partnership with the Boston College Random Acts of Kindness club to set up a wall of gratitude for students to write what they’re thankful for on Post-It notes. “I think we get so wrapped up in the pressures of school, of BC, of being involved, that it’s really important to take a moment to evaluate and reflect and find ways that we can promote our own happiness.”
The campaign is helpful for students and UGBC alike, as the Happiness Project is a much-needed contrast to the group’s often serious programming. While the concentration on more intense issues is necessary and critical, it’s also important to have fun and engage the student body with more light-hearted campaigns. “As part of UGBC, helping the student body is really our mission at its core,” adds Rager.
With a week jam-packed with activities and giveaways and student involvement—all with a primary focus on happiness—it’s only natural that the project aims to help BC students redefine what happiness means to them in order to fit their individual lifestyles.
“I guess happiness to me is not a lack of unhappiness, but more a sense of fulfillment and joy in as many aspects of your life as possible,” says Rager. “We want to show everyone that being authentic, being the true you, is the key aspect to your happiness.”
The Happiness Project takes place during a time when many students need a reminder that this sense of joy and contentment needs to be present in their lives. At the beginning of February, the campaign aims to show students that it’s not too late to create goals for themselves and to have that sense of a fresh start and new beginning.
“Happiness isn’t just something where you can turn on a switch and it’s there,” says Rager. “Happiness is a journey, and I think it’s really important to acknowledge that and be authentic with that. Because that’s when you let people support you and can take steps toward being truly happy.”