The HappyHap Project

We blog about projects that amaze us and share the "HappyHap spirit"; i.e. spread happiness and make a positive difference in the world. We also post videos that are likely to make you smile and once in a while a mindful quote. It's a constantly evolving wall of inspiration and a tool-kit to make happiness happen everywhere!


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A New Chapter Begins for The HappyHap Project

From left to right: Sunnie (founder), Ploy (President 2010), Christian (current President)

It has been quiet around The HappyHap Project blog over the past two months, but behind the scenes we’ve been working hard on our core mission: pushing happiness forward on university campuses and beyond. A quick history flashback to give you the full story behind HappyHap. 

The Early Days

Founded in 2008 at Yale University by Sunnie Tölle we initially set out to create, a web platform on which - based on the idea that happiness is contagious - you can post a few lines, a photo, or a video of a happy moment and dedicate it to others.


Within less than a year we counted 15 student team members, so we founded The HappyHap Project and registered it as a Yale student organization. Back then, our primary objective was to build a web platform that would make young people mindful of, inspired by and empowered through happiness. After launching on Yale’s campus,we continued to engage in projects with a similar mission, and published a magazine, produced three amateur short movies, coordinated multiple speaker events and study breaks, curated  a photography exhibition, held a charity fundraiser for SmileTrain and launched this blog! Last year, our team members took on key volunteer positions for TEDxNewHaven, a conference on “The Art and Science of Happiness,” which was independently organized by our founder Sunnie and our advisor Mario Chamorro on April 28, 2012 at Yale University. 


On May 21st of this year, Sunnie along with a host of the founding team members graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree. What had started as a website and a side project among a small group of friends during freshmen year of college, is today - four years later - a student organization that engages in creative, social and academic initiatives to push happiness forward on the Yale university campus and beyond.



This summer the team under the leadership of Sunnie (left in the picture at the very top) and Christian (right in the same picture) distilled the learnings from four years of project work at Yale and decided to relaunch the HappyHap student organization as “YNSPIRE,” a non-profit organization that pushes happiness forward at universities and beyond. YNSPIRE does this through three channels: local university chapters, a research-focused think tank and an online network of creatives that engage with the subject of happiness through their artistic work. To share the insights from the past four years, we’re also currently writing up “Inspiration in a Box.” It’s a toolkit featuring practical advice on creative leadership and 15 step-by-step hands-on project proposals that inspire happiness in a university community.

Ultimately, we believe that a better world will exist if  people are inspired to make their happiness a priority, embrace a more creative approach to leadership and drive positive social change. An inspired world starts with You, so we called our new organization YNSPIRE.

Currently, the main YNSPIRE chapter is based at Yale University and operates under the name InspireYale. New chapters are to open at other universities in the US in 2013. To learn more about what we do, visit our website and follow us on facebook.


Q: What is YNSPIRE?

A: YNSPIRE is a pending 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that pushes happiness forward at universities and beyond. YNSPIRE does this through three channels: local university chapters, a research-focused think tank and an online network of creatives that engage with the subject of happiness through their artistic work. Many of these activities were already carried out in a smaller capacity by the same group of people that created Today, “The HappyHap Project”solely refers to the web platform and its blog (which you’re reading right now.) The HappyHap Project is an YNSPIRE initiative.

Q: Why didn’t you just stick with calling yourself “The HappyHap Project?” Why did you found YNSPIRE in addition?

A: When we started out in 2008, we just wanted to build a simple website where you can post a photo, video or text about a happy moment and dedicate to someone. By now, we’ve undertaken many other creative / social / academic projects that aim to push happiness forward on university campuses that don’t really have anything to do with the original idea of posting a happy hap(pening). Hence, we feel that the name “The HappyHap Project” no longer captures our work and mission. What binds us together as a team is the common belief that a better world will exist if people embrace a more creative approach to leadership, are inspired to make their happiness a priority, and drive positive social change. This inspired world starts with You, so we call our new organization YNSPIRE.

Q: What does YNSPIRE do?

A: YNSPIRE undertakes creative, social and academic projects that push happiness forward in this world, and - as a student-led organization, is especially focused on university campuses. YNSPIRE has also established a research-focused think tank to engage academically with the topic of happiness from a multitude of perspectives by drawing on research in the fields of psychology, philosophy, politics and economics. 

Q: How can I get involved with YNSPIRE?

A: Visit our website and click on “Get Involved.”

Q: Will this blog be discontinued?

A: No, it remains a constantly evolving wall of inspiration to which we will continue to post videos, links, pictures and articles that inspire us and embody the “HappyHap spirit.” However, we also blog at the new YNSPIRE blog and are likely to cross post between the YNSPIRE and The HappyHap Project blogs.


TEDxNewHaven took place on April 28th on the topic of „The Art and Science of Happiness.“ Nima Tshering, an engineer by training, a public servant by profession, and a “servant leader” by passion, was the first speaker at the conference. 

Before coming to Harvard, Nima worked as an assistant to the King of Bhutan at the Office for People’s Welfare and Wellbeing, serving the poorest of the poor at their doorsteps.

One day, he met a destitute woman named Aum Demola in a remote village in Bhutan. “Her most prized asset was her leftover meal from the previous night that she kept under lock in a wooden box in her bamboo hut,” says Nima. “She had the key around her neck.”

Tears well in Nima’s eyes as he recalls. “This experience taught me the real meaning of you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. It shook my conscience. It gave me a calling.” He spent the next three years walking to more than 300 remote villages in Bhutan, helping thousands like her.

Nima believes that you can change the world better when you truly lead with empathy. “Happiness is being human first,” Nima smiles.

Take a look at his TEDx talk, in which he tells the story of Gross National Happiness. Learn about the philosophical concept behind GNH, its history and its meaning for the Bhutanese society at large. 


The future will ask you two questions. Watch this beautiful video to find out which ones and enjoy the scenery filmed during a 5 week trip through Chile and Patagonia. It was filmed by a couple during their trip of a lifetime.

Beautiful mural at TEDxNewHaven on “The Art and Science of Happiness” designed by illustrators Justin Gabbard and Andre Da Loba! 

What makes you happy? 

Inspired by the TEDxNewHaven conference on “The Art and Science of Happiness,” my friend Josephine Decker and I spontaneously decided to ask some of the guests at a dinner party in New York to which we had both been invited, to share a story of a happy moment on camera.  I hope you enjoy the result as much as I do.

By Sunnie

Happiness is the topic of upcoming TEDx conference at Yale

Founder of The HappyHap Project, Sunnie Tölle, who is also a co-organizer of TEDxNewHaven has been featured in the New Haven Register, the local newspaper of New Haven and the Connecticut area. The article reads as follows: 

"NEW HAVEN ‑ You’ll be glad to know the area’s top minds are hard at work figuring out how to make people happy.

It’s a full-out intellectual assault. “The Art and Science of Happiness,” the first TEDxNewHaven conference, is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 28 at Yale University’s Sudler Hall auditorium of Harkness Hall, 100 Wall St. It will feature 13 speakers tackling happiness from the point of view of art, politics, psychology, culture, technology, education and entrepreneurship. 

“At the end of the day, everyone has something to say about happiness,” said Sunnie Tolle, a Yale senior who is one of the organizers of the conference and the founder of a student group called The HappyHap Project, which promotes “an optimistic campus” at Yale.

“Yale is an amazing place, but it’s also a performance-oriented place. Sometimes happiness is overlooked,” Tolle said.

Tickets for the conference are $15, available online through There will be only a limited number of seats available on the day of the event. The conference also will be live-streamed at The Grove, a coworking space at 71 Orange St.

Among the speakers at TEDxNewHaven will be New Haven’s Ben Berkowitz, co-founder and CEO of SeeClickFix; Sunny Dutra, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Yale who has conducted research on how people respond to feedback about themselves; Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”; and Yale graduate Charles Eisenstein, author of “The Ascent of Humanity.”

Each speaker will give a 15-minute presentation. Between speakers, there will be performances by Yale a capella, dance and comedy groups.

Mario Chamorro of New York City, founder of the Happy Post Project, is organizing the event with Tolle.

“I see happiness as a component for social change,” he said. “When people take actions based on happiness, it changes the world in a positive way. This works from an economic view, a political view and a personal view.”

TEDx events are independently-organized conferences that use the TED model to share ideas throughout a community.

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…

Henry David Thoreau


A short film that tells the story behind the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster. Its origins at the beginning of WWII and its rediscovery in a bookshop in England in 2000, becoming one of the iconic images of the 21st century. Film, music, script and narration by Temujin Doran.

Stop-motion Epicness!

This video was created for a motion graphics class in the SVA MFA Design program It only uses type and typographic elements in black and white. Thumbs up for creative minds who can make the most amazing things using basic elements and just two colors. 


In April, The HappyHap Project will be participating in TEDxNewHaven, a conference exploring “The Art and Science of Happiness.” The day-long event at Yale University will bring together leaders in positive psychology, entrepreneurship, education, politics, media, culture, technology and art to consider happiness in all its forms.

Happiness is a universally shared value and a subject of study across a variety of fields. TED conferences’ commitment to presenting “ideas worth spreading” makes happiness the perfect subject.

HappyHap founder Sunnie Tölle is working with Mario Chamorro to organize TEDxNewHaven. Mario founded the Happy Post Project, a collective art initiative that spreads happiness to fuel positive social change. People from all walks of life answer a simple question: “What makes you happy?” With a Post-it as their canvas, people write down and draw their idea of happiness. We blogged about the project last year and could not be more excited about their collaboration! 

Together, they’ve worked to create an event that is sure to inspire and spread happiness in New Haven and beyond.

This conference won’t just be about speakers telling their ideas to the audience. Attendees will also have a chance to share their own ideas for creating a happier world, as part of a special digital project which will be announced at the conference.

You can apply online to attend TEDxNewHaven, which takes place on April 28 at Yale University in the Sudler Hall auditorium.

‎”Eliminate all negative emotions, anything that creates bad feelings and distracts from the project at hand. Clear it all away, and what’s left? The space for creativity pure and simple.”

Our Publication “Perspectives of Happiness” Is Out!


Making our own publication ”Perspectives of Happiness" has been a long, sometimes stressful, and always hopeful journey. As only the second HappyHap publication in our organization’s history, this process was very much a mystery at its onset. Looking back, I have seen those who have been involved mature in amazing ways, and I am whole-heartedly proud of the final product.

Oftentimes when I tell people about The HappyHap Project, I am met with confusion as to what we do. In short: we seek to inspire people with innovative projects and ideas that focus on the theme of happiness. We give each student member of our team the freedom to create projects about which they feel passionate. 

After selecting a project, that team member has complete responsibility over it. My enterprise from September ‘11 till February ‘12 has been this publication. I hope as you read it, you are struck by the ways happiness can effect daily life. Each individual involved in this magazine has brought to light different ways in which happiness has the power to help and invigorate, whether it be through volunteering during a natural disaster or finding a new appreciation for sadness. It has truly been a joy to work on (and possibly even more of a joy to complete). May it bring a smile to your face and enliven your day.

Most happily,

Carolyn Farnham, Editor-In-Chief

Pro Infirmis conducts an experiment: there are only a few people who don`t have empathy with disabled people. Nevertheless, the passenger seat in the public bus next to Fabian often stays empty. Handicapped people are a regular part of our society. 

So, get closer.

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