Student Led Happiness Initiative at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.“ Pete Wangwongwiroj was part of a team working on bringing the Happiness Initiative to the University of Michigan campus in 2012-2013. The Happiness Initiative is a 501(c)(3) organization that builds a new quality of life movement based upon measures of civic success and prosperity than go beyond Gross Domestic Product. So what does this actually mean? It means that happiness counts, and we know that the GDP does not adequately capture happiness. So how do, or how should, we measure happiness? Happiness is in itself a broad, vague and generalized term. Each one of us is in charge of how happy one can be, and your ‘happy’ may not be the same as another person’s ‘happy.’ Through a 15-minute survey, the Happiness Initiative aims to provide indicators of your happiness in ten different domains, because happiness isn’t a unidimensional term, and it definitely isn’t the same thing as GDP. We hope that our indicators can serve as an alternative to GDP and guide future policies and changes to the way our society functions. We believe this is especially important and relevant in the college setting. Preliminary survey results show that persons aged 19-25 are as unhappy as ever. We are increasingly concerned about our job outlook, financial security, and we never seem to have enough time to do everything we want. It’s time for change. The goal of Happiness Initiative at UM is to sparks conversations on what makes life worth living and what makes you happy. The goal is also to complete a UM Happiness Report Card, which will summarize our overall results. If you’re going ‘yes! yes!! YES!!!!’ at this idea, take the survey AND join our team! Email us at We’re looking for passion, dedication, audacity, and your overwhelming love for Charlie Sheen. Just kidding about the last one. To end, let’s ponder this quote by John Lennon (also posted on the front page): “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

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