Sara Lahey's Love 'n Aid project was selected to participate in the 2012 Pepsi Refresh Project. Learn more about Sara and how she hunts for happiness.
Share a bit about yourself and where you're from. As a kid, my favorite game was "Save the World." I used to recruit my little sister to imagine the magnitude of impact one person can have in the world. I was a really sad kid. I saw the Christian Children Fund commercials which showed kids with dirty faces and no shoes and I was devastated. There were children hungry, in need of clean water and medical support. I never forgot those kids. In my mind, they were waiting for me to help them and I was waiting to grow up, so I could.
I also grew up in a home environment that wasn't very happy most of the time. From a very young age I felt a deep desire to nurture people and help make them happy. By the time I was 10, I read about the things I thought would give me clues to figuring out what the fundamental needs of the world were from a bigger perspective. If I didn't know about it, there was no chance I could help. I also read about real life heroes! I studied how they were able to succeed in making a positive impact on the world. As I got older, everyday people became my heroes too.
Tell us how/why you started the Hunting Happiness Project. In search of how to best serve the world, I studied nursing, but mid-way through nursing school I decided that it wasn't my calling. So, I decided I might be able to make a difference by pursuing politics. I quickly recognized that I didn't stand a chance at making the kind of changes I wanted to in government and policy. At this point in my life I understood two very important things:
(1) Someone in need doesn't necessarily "look" like anything. EVERYBODY needs a lift.
(2) Everywhere I was, was an opportunity to change the world . . . by showing a simple smile, opening the door, helping a stranger in the moment.
Besides the fact that I could impact someone positively, I could almost bank on the fact that they might go home happier and be more likely to do something nice for someone else - or at the very least maybe be less mean. The Hunting Happiness Project was born from my growing need to express my love to the world and touch as many people as possible. I wanted to show people we are all instruments of happiness for ourselves and each other. In March 2010, I took my heart, my humor, and my hunt to the world and decided – “I can make the world happy!”
How does a Love 'N Aid event work?
First, the LOVE – you can walk up and select from a menu of FREE gifts that are sure to cheer you up! We believe that if we give to you, you will be inspired to give to someone else. That’s what we call movement!
Now what about the aid? We have resources available for people in need of things like food banks, homeless shelters, and employment assistance. Many of the gifts we offer have been offered by someone who has been by our stand already, someone who wanted to pay it forward. Our plan is to reach one million people with this project in the next year!
How do you deliver happiness to others in your life?
I make sure that they feel loved and supported. I'm famous for leaving love notes, silly car notes and mooshy-gooshie text messages to friends and family.
Is there a person, experience, or event in your life that was pivotal in shaping your outlook on happiness? Love has always been my compass to happiness. Honestly, I think I learned the most from my sadness. I let my sadness teach me better compassion, better gratitude, and better strength.
What makes you really happy? Love. Loving people, seeing people love each other. This gives me hope that we can live in a more peaceful, happier world - where strangers are all friends who haven't met yet.
What's your advice to someone who wants to start making happiness a priority but doesn't know where to begin?
Start by doing nice things for yourself and for others everyday. Commit to smiling more often. Imagine what it would look like to be a happier you. Imagine it, until it becomes real. Fake it until you make it! You will make it.
What’s a favorite inspirational quote? Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. - Seneca
What's something weird that makes you happy? Lucky parking spots, most things in pink, being wrong and laughing about it, organic chocolate, hummingbird sightings, dancing under the influence of music.
Contact Sara@HuntingHappinessProject.com to learn more about Hunting Happiness.