Interview: Project Happiness
Below is an interview with Randy Taran, founder and CEO of Project Happiness. Her work aims to empower people to seek their happiest self in order to improve parts of their life and overall wellbeing. Randy believes that happiness is not a state of mind, but rather a skillset for people of any age.
*We at Bitter Blush acknowledge that mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder are chemical imbalances that need specialist intervention by mental health professionals. Mental illness appears in many forms. We recognize that Project Happiness has helped many people globally start their journey to wellness and to find happiness within themselves. Project Happiness is not a mental health provider or doctor's service.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are now.
Sitting across the kitchen table, my teenager whispered, “I want to be happy but I don’t know how.” The signs of her depression became more evident and I didn’t know what to do. The World Health Organization has officially stated that depression is the leading cause of global mental and physical disability, affecting 1 in 20 people. It rocked me to the core and I ached to help. I asked myself, “Where are the resources, how many more are suffering, and why are we not talking about this?".
This was the beginning of my journey, and the catalyst for starting my pro-purpose, non-profit, Project Happiness. Though my inspiration was personal, I soon found out the issue at hand was global. But, where would I start? Looking for answers, I produced an award-winning documentary on happiness featuring George Lucas, Richard Gere, Neuroscientist Richard Davidson, and the Dalai Lama. Next, I co-authored a book, now an Amazon bestseller, which included all the world-class resources, pulled from science, I wished had been available when I was seeking them.
The book eventually generated requests pouring in to create a social emotional learning curriculum, an online course for adults, a global happiness book club, and our social media to reach even more people. Now in over 120 countries and counting, our programs have allowed us to connect with over 3 million people. Our community is amazing!
2. Your philosophy is that happiness can be learned, can you tell us a little bit about how this process might look like? Where do you start?
Yes, happiness can absolutely be learned! The science is strong and the need is compelling. You need to look within, practice gratitude, acknowledge your passions and your strengths, listen to your inner-friend not your inner meanie, be empathetic, and share your gifts! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s exciting that we can now give those who need it most, the tools to take charge of their own happiness, to become more aware, emotionally resilient, and develop the skills to navigate whatever life presents.
3. How do you think mental health is related to physical health?
It’s connected in so many ways. If your mental health is strong, and you practice self-love and self-care, then making sure you are healthy physically will happen naturally. The opposite can happen too. It’s so important to put both mental and physical health on top of your list of priorities in life.
You can do things that support both; like meditation and mindfulness, taking walks outside, getting enough sleep, and eat foods you love that fuel you and make you feel amazing!
4. What is your main goal?
My vision in finding resources to help my own child soon expanded to the dream of World Happiness Domination! Our goal now is to impact 10,000,000 lives. Kindness, mindfulness, and all the other tools we can use are not just niceties – they are key to bringing out the best in us, and our society.
5. Why should people join your Circles?
Circles is a great way to combine reading and socialising, as well as getting a little deeper! The program helps you connect with your type of people - ones that want to stay happy, healthy and enlightened! Circles elevates the conversations of regular bookclubs to the next level. And we do all the hard work for you, gathering the best snippets from our favourite books to spark discussion in your group, whilst giving you happiness tips along the way.
6. Can you talk a bit about how issues of diversity intersect with mental health?
Absolutely. Well, firstly, understanding our basic human similarities, and the importance of cultivating our connection with one another, means that we feel less alone. That being said, we need to honour, nurture, and appreciate diversity through increased awareness and tolerance. It’s so important to reflect on and build awareness of how our actions and those of others relate to our common needs of belonging.
7. Many poor or impoverished people cannot afford some mental health services; in what way is Project Happiness working to make aid more universal?
Project Happiness itself is not a professional mental health provider - we are not doctors. And it’s such a shame that some people can’t afford such services. But our programs and products are a place to start by looking into emotions and wellbeing. We have a scholarship program where we sponsor Title 1 schools in the US who can’t afford extra programs, by providing them with our happiness curriculum for free. The success, unity, and life skills it brings to students is invaluable.
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