A dozen kids are running towards you with their arms wide open, grinning brighter than the sun and there you are, like a flower surrounded by dozen butterflies. In that exact moment, you reek of happiness. The smiles of that group have become contagious, everyone around you is smiling. It’s a happiness riot!
It’s one of my dearest memory from the time I spent volunteering at a low-income to teach 5th class kids. It was a time, when I loved waking up at 5:30am on Saturdays. Those Saturdays were the best. Catching the first metro to see my students, it had an entirely different flavour to it. A flavour that is missing from our mundane lives.
I would often wonder why was that time so special to me. Because, I have had some great friends and they have beautiful smiles. Yet I had to be around those 11 year olds, to feel really happy. Then it struck me one day, while going through a Quora AMA session of Raj Raghunathan, Happiness Expert at UT Austin.
Mr. Raghunathan says, “ For being happy we need to feel that we are progressing towards fulfillment of 3 important goals:
1) Mastery - feeling that we are really good at something
2) Belonging - intimacy with at least one other human being)
3) Autonomy - feeling that we are not puppets in someone else’s hands, but rather, are the authors of our own judgments and decisions “
Now if we introspect the instances of volunteering. All the three points fit in perfectly. Classroom had 11 year old students, completely new to the concept of public speaking(topic that I used to teach them). Thus, inside the classroom I was the best at public speaking. Which gives us the first goal - ‘Mastery’.
In another instance, kids used to have fun in my class. Because we had frequent storytelling and ice-breaking games in our lesson plan. So, kids loved me for that. They would bring me wild-flowers and crayon made cards. I felt loved and it gave birth to the feeling of ‘belongingness’.
Also, while I was in the classroom I had the power to take decisions on all the class proceedings. There was ‘autonomy’.
There, the puzzle stood solved. Volunteering makes us happy because it has all the right ingredients.
In the words of Raj Raghunathan, “The most reliable determinant of happiness is being generous.”
Post realisation, I wanted to share this secret of happiness with everyone. The feeling where early mornings become beautiful and you are living for those two exquisite hours in your life. I wanted everyone to have a taste of that spice. So the question became, how can we make it easier for people to adapt the lifestyle of social work and gain happiness.
That’s when, I met Manikanth(my co-founder) and we came up with the idea of building a Happiness Store. A store which features products creatively crafted to impact social ventures and create happiness. The basic idea of happiness store was to objectify the biggest outcome of working with a social venture that is happiness. The only way we could make it widely scalable was through technology. Thus, Happiness Store is analogous to ecommerce sites. For example - As we buy clothes on ecommerce website, similarly we can buy happiness on the happiness store. Products are listed under three categories -
Share A Skill: Create impact by doing what you do the best
Share A Gift: Happiness increases by sharing
Share The Pride: Buy social ventures’ product; be a proud owner of their creativity
All our products have a two way impact in the society. One, they help social ventures to grow faster with the presence of ample talent and resources. Two, they spread happiness.
When we are appreciated for our work, it boosts our self-esteem. The more we believe that we are efficacious and successful, the better we feel. Appreciation is also important for the sustenance of a generous lifestyle. When we donate food, the needy says ‘thank you’ and it further motivates us to repeat our actions. That’s how the cycle of happiness keeps going.
Similarly, the buyers of happiness store also need to feel appreciated for their generosity. Hence, we introduced the concept of GrowthHub Credits. When a person completes his order( for ex- you wrote content for a social venture), 20 credits will be added to your account to make your contribution accountable and appreciated. Also, when your credit count reaches a milestone( say, 100 Growthhub Credits), it is converted into real money.
The identity that we create for ourselves becomes the determinant of how we are treated in the society. Identity creation comes by sharing ideas and acting upon them. It is of uttermost importance for humans to share and discuss ideas. Because, that’s how we grow.
Same is for the Growthhub community, every registered user gets his own profile page, wall, newsfeed and groups under Social Circles tab, to share and discuss experiences. Which when combined with Growthhub credits creates a unique identity for that user.
These aspects of GrowthHub are a reflection of our belief that happiness, appreciation and identity creation are indispensable factors of living a meaningful life. Through Growthhub, we have been able to meet people who believe in our philosophy and many others who have started to realise the same. The conjunction of all of us is electric. People have found the same sense of belongingness with kids as I’ve found in the past. The cycle is complete now and our wheel is ready to tread a million more revolutions.
“GrowthHub - Creating A Happy World” : A social networking platform to buy happiness and create change.