Pursuing Happiness

Last week, I was downtown for a meeting and, afterwards, decided to check-out Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show at the Chicago Cultural Center. Even though the disclaimer at the entrance claimed that the exhibit would not make me happier, it, in fact, did.

I have a thing with pursuing happiness. It started a few years ago when a colleague suggest The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt. He shared theories of happiness from ancient philosophers and world religions, and then used modern science to provide a biological explanations for them. A very balanced approach that showed it is the human condition to want to be happy.


I chose #8, as did many others. The gum ball tasted terrible and probably dropped my happiness level down a notch until I could find a place to spit it out.

Another flirtation with understanding happiness came earlier this year when I watched “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Anchor on PBS. It made be realize that I was making my happiness contingent on accomplishing certain goals, when, in actuality, you ought to become happy first and then achievements come. It was then that I decided to partner with the World Bicycle Relief, because I had been wanting a charity partner for Po Campo since Day 1 but thought I should wait until we were more profitable. I made a video about this decision, if you’re interested in learning more.


I drew fluffy clouds and birds.

A large component of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program (from which I recently graduated!) was understanding what you value as a person and as a company, and have that drive most of your business decisions. Happiness repeatedly appeared at the top of the list for me and for Po Campo, along with inclusivity, respect, trust and integrity.

I know that riding my bike makes me happy.

I think this is partly why riding my bike makes me happy, especially when I am not in a hurry.

I lucked out in the happy lottery. My family is a bunch of happy people too. I also lucked out that my default facial expression is a grin, because people are always grinning back at me, so I get above-average exposure to happiness and positivity all day long. I try not to fault grumpy people because I know it could just be bad genes (like, what if your default facial expression was a scowl? Then people would be scowling at you all day). Even so, I try to rid my life of grumpy people because I don’t like having negativity around me. Life’s hard enough as it is.

I got a kick out of all these little messages throughout the exhibit. It was like a reminder to take a closer look at your surroundings and appreciate all the little details there for you to enjoy.

I always have lots of ideas of things I want to do or create. Sometimes I feel fortunate for being creative that way, but I’ve learned that execution is really the name of the game and I often find it hard to put things into action. It just seems like so much work.


I’ve been thinking about this a lot. My parents are retired and I am envious of them because they can just do what they want. Why do I have to wait 30 more years to experience that freedom?

I recently read The Four Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss, which has a lot of great nuggets of advice in it even if you want to work more than just four hours. Not saving your retirement to the end of your life is pretty much the central thesis of the book, and I was happy to see it repeated in this exhibit. I have MS, which means that I’m likely to have more health issues in my 50’s, 60’s and 70’s than a normal person. I also have big dreams of things I want to do, like living abroad. I definitely do not want to save those things until I can retire at 67 because chances are I will not be able to do them then. Instead, I’d rather do them now and sit in front of a computer then. Therefore, it is my goal for Po Campo to have unlimited vacation time and flex hours.

See more images from The Happy Show on their Tumblr. If you are in Chicago, the exhibit runs through Sept 23 at the Cultural Center. And it is free!

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