The Happy Post Project

New York / Nov. 23, 2012 / by The Team

What began as an idea started with some napkins and a few Sharpies has become a global movement to spread happiness using just the magic of multi-colored Post-It notes. 

The Happy Post Project is, as Founder Mario Chamorro explains, “A grassroots movement where we ask people on the streets what makes them happy and we ask people to write or to draw anything that makes them happy on a Post-It.”

Chamorro had the idea for The Happy Post Project after going through a difficult phase in his life. During the financial crisis of 2008, he lost his job and his house, and eventually found another job in Boston. 

It was during his frequent commutes from Boston to New York that his interest in the idea of happiness peaked. It came from reading a book that asked two questions, he says. “The first one was, ‘What is your gift, what is your superpower?’ and the second one was, ‘What are you doing with your superpower to make the world a better place?’”

“I realized that my superpower was connecting with people and empowering with positive messages,” says Chamorro. His interest continued as he wrote a popular blog exploring the power of happiness until one day, when having dinner with a friend, the idea for The Happy Post Project was born. 

Speaking with his friend, he wondered aloud about what made all the people in the restaurant happy. “She said, ‘Why don’t you go ask them to write or draw anything that makes them happy?’ So I took a bunch of napkins because I didn’t have post-its and I took a couple of sharpies and I started asking people.”

Far from receiving a lukewarm response, Chamarro explains that, “The reaction was amazing and that day, my friend challenged me to collect 100,000 of those happy messages and to create art installations with them.”

With this, Chamarro created the Happy Post Project, which now has volunteers in countries across the world. 

The Happy Post Project is an entirely volunteer-run enterprise, all of who have full-time jobs to go to when not working on the project. It is funded mostly out of the participants’ own pockets and donations from participants. Some of the thousands of Post-Its used by the project were donated to them by 3M, the maker of Post-Its.

When asked why they chose a Post-It note as the medium for their project, Chamarro says there were several reasons. 

“First of all, it’s easy to access on a global basis, you can buy Post-Its everywhere wherever you go. Secondly, because they're colorful, and color catches the attention of people. And third, it doesn't take much space so you can have it in your pocket."

The project is more than writing on small, colorful pieces of paper, however. Amelia Fambrini, part of the project’s public relations, explains that, “It's a process of self-reflection. You know, for some people, it's really easy to know what makes them happy.”

“It can also be a process of sharing and creating a larger community,” she continues. “You kind of feel more connected to people and then it's also connecting people all over the world.”

The project is trying to help people find a way to discover their own brand of happiness. “We're trying to find what it is, when you have everything, you're still missing and often times, that's the things you can't go out and buy in a store, the things you're not going to line up for on Black Friday,” says Brett Chamberlin, Community Manager. 

It’s an exercise in learning about oneself as well as those in the community around, and the many experiences people share. “For me, when I go through these Post-Its, I'm less surprised by the one that's unique than I am surprised by how many of them reflect the same kind of common human experiences,” says Chamberlin. 

“We like to say that food, family, and friends are the three that occur most often. In any country, these are things that people really turn to when they need to get a little dose of happiness.”

For such a small piece of paper, these Happy Post Project Post-Its have the power to encompass a great range of emotions and, when all collected together and displayed as a wall of multi-colored scribblings, create quite the eye-catching mural. 

It is sometimes easy to focus on the things that make us unhappy in life, rather than focusing on the happiness, especially when things seem to get on top of us. The Happy Post Project, however, is trying to show everyone that happiness is a vital part of building a health community and they want to help spread happiness across the globe. 

“Everybody has a unique gift,” says Chamorro, “and everybody is responsible also to share that gift with the world. So from my end, I asked myself what was my gift and then when I start sharing that, a lot of great things started happening around.”

By spreading a little bit of happiness, they are hoping to bring people together as well as making sure they are able to take care of themselves. 

“So from the Happy Post, when we start asking people what makes them happy, it's also to remind that people just are also putting a lot of time, effort, and attention into their own happiness.”

“I would have never realized that by doing a little experiment, it could change my life,” says Chamorro. 

The reaction to The Happy Post Project has been tremendous, and in bringing a smile to people’s days, all the volunteers hope to make a difference in their communities, one Post-It at a time. 

To learn more about The Happy Post Project and to find out how to take part, please visit their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed