Spreading happiness around

Spreading happiness around

For Bangaloreans, one of the most stressful places to be in is the traffic signal. The bumper-to-bumper traffic, road rage and blaring horns can make one impatient and lead to flaring tempers. Everybody wants to get to their destination on time. And just when you think that there is nothing one can do to reduce the tension, a group of professionals in town have found a solution.

Meet the ‘Happiness Heroes’, a bunch of happy people who want to spread joy. What they do is simple — every Wednesday morning, between 8.30 am and 9.30 am, as most Bangaloreans rush to work, the group stand at different signals and attempt to bring a smile on the faces of commuters and passers-by. Each of them is armed with a poster with a happy message and a huge smile on their face. ‘Smile O.K. Please’ calls out one poster; another has ‘ Happy Holidays’ written on it. Yet another one reads ‘Get happy about nothing’. One even promises ‘Free Hugs’.

The group, which started this effort in August, came upon this idea during a
conversation at work. Mihira Appnendar, an employee of ‘The Fuller Life’, an HR
consultancy, says, “It started with a random conversation with Monica, our HR head, about doing some fun activity at and outside work. And she showed us some things that people around the world were doing. This concept of making and holding up simple posters for commuters really caught our attention. It was based on the simple concept of happiness, which we think is not given enough importance in our lives or culture.”

She adds, “‘Happiness Heroes’ is all about making people smile, motivating someone to change their day.” And how do commuters respond? Some people just stare at them at them and ride past. Some others smile politely, or give them a thumbs-up. What makes the effort worthwhile are those people who are excited by what they see and smile back.

Rupali Prakash, another professional who has been doing this since its inception, says that it’s the response of people that makes them come every Wednesday.

“There is a sense of happiness as you see a frown turn into a smile as they are driving. Yes, there have been people who have come to us and asked us how much we get paid for this or which NGO we work for, etc,” she adds.

Mihira goes on to say, “At first, we thought this would be a one-off event. But now, we have people looking out for us at various signals on Wednesday morning and some even take pictures and post it on the networking sites, making it a wonderful movement, if we can call it that.”

Since most of them are girls, ask them if they are scared of lewd remarks from the public and they say that it’s not only about brightening up another person’s day but theirs also. “We prefer to ignore those who pass remarks. A good majority appreciate us by smiling back and that’s what makes our day,” says Rupali.

Sonam, another ‘Happy’ volunteer, says that this experience has changed her
personally as well. “I think the City can do with a bit of happiness now. The entire feeling is overwhelming when we have regulars waving at us every Wednesday,” she says.

Sera, who passes the Cauvery Signal on her way to work every day, has seen the ‘Happiness Heroes’ and finds the entire thing very unique. “It’s unique and creative. I
feel this should spread and people should stand at different signals. Sometimes, a simple message can make so much of a difference,” she adds.

Ask if they have any plans to expand and Mihira adds, “We hope to move around other major junctions as well. We’re also hoping people follow our lead and do the same at other traffic signals across Bangalore.”

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