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Why Work on Happiness?

*We are re-starting our blog with a note from our Founder and Head of Tinkering. We hope you'll follow our work and invite you to join in wherever you are in the world. After all, it takes a village, we are stronger together...all that jazz. Enjoy!

Dear Fellow Tinkerers,

This past March I attended the 5th Annual Gross Global Happiness Summit in Costa Rica at the University for Peace. And people ask me with a half smile and a slightly puzzled expression, “A global summit on happiness? What did you do there?” My answer: I took some space to develop my internal connection to my own happiness and to learn about how I can grow happiness in the world around me so that I can enable the dream of Social Tinkering to flourish. And they usually respond with, "Huh, cool."

I think talking about happiness often sounds self-indulgent and over-simplified at a time when it feels like everyone in the world is fighting each other, when we are scared to even talk to each other, when so many people are struggling for basic needs in their daily lives. So why do we talk about happiness and belonging when at the same time so many of us feel like we are in emergency response mode, literally trying to stop the bleeding in our communities? Because by creating even a few minutes of opportunity for us to see each other as human beings increases our connectedness, helps us all see each other as human beings that have a right to be treated with compassion and kindness. And this is what will ultimately stop the bleeding. Showing each other we are seen and valued gives us the space to breathe, then to treat each other a little more compassionately, like we each want to be treated, and allows us room to find not just the bandages, but the truly healing solutions.

If you are a parent and your children are fighting, you ask them to pause and take a break from each other, to think about what is happening and remember that they love each other. We ask them to think about how they are making the other feel and would they like to be treated that way? This makes our kids stop and say, “well, but…but…no.” And then they are able to make space to think about how their actions or words have affected their sibling, to image how they feel, and to apologize and then to talk through what happened more calmly. As parents, my husband and I were taught when our kids were very young to remind them to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When I first heard this I just sat back in awe and thought, “That’s so simple. Can it really be that simple?” I don’t always succeed at remembering to do this myself, I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. But when I do remember to apply this simple saying as my heart is beating faster and the anger is rising, it makes me pause and think and not just react. And then I can be more calm and compassionate, and listen and learn. I often think that if we adults practiced what we preach then the world would be a better place.

During the Gross Global Happiness Summit I met many incredible global change makers, did a lot of personal internal learning, and was gifted a lot of wisdom and ideas to bring back home. I also learned that our work at Social Tinkering is on the right track and is as innovative and new as we have suspected. Our work to build and foster community spaces for genuine connection, trust-building, and simply making friends is the external work we all must intentionally and thoughtfully do together if our communities are to truly and sustainably thrive . This is the long and slow work that is the next stage after the emergency response; to create sustainable and healthy change. We build a culture of belonging so that individuals feel like someone cares about them and they can show they care about others; so that families can build connection and support for each other; and so that community members have the resources they need to be supported and in turn, to help their community thrive.

Happy people are:

…people who feel a healing sense of belonging

…people who feel cared for

…people who care for others

…thriving communities.

Sometimes we humans make things too complicated and scoff bitterly at the simple things that in reality have the power to heal us all. Sometimes the answer to our struggles is simple but will simply require time. As we build Social Tinkering into a more tangible reality, we hope you’ll join us to do the slow work and give our time together, to each other, to build belonging and happiness for a thriving Rutland region and beyond.

See you soon,


~ Head of Tinkering, Social Tinkering: A Human Connection Project

“Smile if you want a smile from another face.” His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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