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We recently celebrated the International Day of Happiness. This is an annual event on March 20th to remind us that happiness is indeed important. Personally, I believe we ought to focus on happiness every day of the year. As a co-founder of Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA), our organization raises awareness of this important fact on a daily basis.
This is why I have walked over 5,400 miles in 600 days over the course of the past 6 years talking to people about happiness and researching what we, in the United States, believe truly matters in life: identifying our common values and characteristics of a thriving nation.
As I was walking through Palo Alto, CA I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Taran the CEO and founder of Project Happiness. It is not common to meet people along this journey who place as much importance on happiness as GNHUSA, so it's truly inspiring when you meet someone who devotes their life to creating a radical shift towards happiness and wellbeing.
Randy and Paula
A little background - We have been dependent upon the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of our country's progress since 1934; and, we have not done a thorough assessment of what our priorities and values are since then so as to guide our public policies.
Both of our organizations (GNHUSA and Project Happiness) are intent on creating a shift in our personal and public lives to increase our overall wellbeing, and work to change how we define the success of our nation'. We do this through our aligned missions and activities.
So you may be curious what people across the country say matters most in life. While we are still in the process of analyzing the data that is critical to this work, it is clear our RELATIONSHIPS rise to the top: our families, friends, people we care about. Contributing to their happiness and wellbeing matters a lot!
When interviewed in Northern California, Pamela said this, which has been echoed across the states, "Family matters but they don't have to be blood relatives." The Hawaiians are familiar with this concept and even have a name for it: hānai family, an informal enfoldment into a family regardless of age.
family hugging
Community is also mentioned, which extends our hānai relationships outward to those whom we may not even be acquainted. Others talk about our world community, including our relationships with animals and nature. 
What if the policies of our local, state, and national governance systems reflected and supported our connection to one another? What if our practices and strategies strove to bring our communities together and actively sought to prevent divisiveness? Most people say this would be a much better place, certainly a happier one.
People walking in the city
I met my hānai sister in Palo Alto: my sister in happiness. We are bonded by our passion to uplift lives and create systems that truly reflect and support the happiness and wellbeing of all. I'm honored and proud to be part of Randy's community.
For more information about Gross National Happiness USA, go to: http://gnhusa.org/, sign the Charter for Happiness and take a quick survey to share what you believe matters most in life.
Paula FrancisAbout Paula Francis
Paula is a co-founder & Vice President of GNHUSA, and chief Happiness Walker. She has been enamored with the idea of an economy grounded in happiness since first learning about the concept in 2008. Soon after, she became one of the original organizers of Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA) and traveled to Bhutan to witness GNH in action. In 2014, she committed to The Happiness Walk full-time to further the goals of GNHUSA and to ignite a national conversation about what matters most in life. Influenced by the Peace Pilgrim and her unrelenting quest to share goodwill while traversing the country on foot, Paula likewise leans on her strong spiritual foundation to create social change: one-person, one-step at a time. This Happiness Walker also applies her learning in values clarification, compassionate communication, appreciative inquiry, community organizing, peace building, and positive psychology to inspire local action around creating a world that works for everyone – and the planet! Prior to this, Paula offered organizational services to social-profits through her business, Inspired Consultation. As her grown daughters have set out to create their own happy lives, Paula has made the road her new home.