What role does geography play in our happiness? Can we increase our happiness by changing our zip code? The journalist Charles Montgomery studies how urban design affects human happiness, and he believes that we can manufacture joy through the urban landscape. Specifically, he believes that we can “redesign our cities, our minds, and our own behaviors”… “to build a city that is more convivial, more fair, more fun, and more happy.”
Montgomery offers a number of ways to make the city more fun, and my favorite suggestion is starting conversations in elevators. He recognizes our inclination for personal space, but he believes that the benefits of a good conversation outweigh the potential awkwardness : “Even a casual conversation with strangers has the potential to flood your system with feel-good hormones. Go ahead. Talk about the weather.”
I decided to encourage chatter by hanging conversation starters in elevators. I’m not sure that anyone will answer the questions, per se, but perhaps they will chat about why someone hung silly paper all over the place. Either way, mission accomplished. Speaking of urban happiness, I’m planning another rah rah rah project with my friends Kaitlyn and Sarah (TheDuck&TheOwl), and we want you to join us. Are you up for it?
The plan is to spread happiness to the public heroes that make our lives better every single day. Grateful for the librarians that keep the bookshelves stocked? Thankful for the firemen that continuously defend the city? Let’s show our appreciation by giving them goodie bags filled with sweet treats and thank you notes.
I plan to spread happiness in Minneapolis, and Kaitlyn and Sarah will bring smiles to Milwaukee. We’re both planning to blog about the project on Monday, and we’d love to read about how other bloggers got involved. If you choose to participate, send us a link (in the comment section of the post) so that everyone can read about your random act of happiness. Ready, set, RAH!