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Senior Capstone Result: Part II

In April 2015, I wrote a 100-page research paper as part of my senior capstone. In previous blogs I've alluded to the project, but today, realized that I never formally shared any findings with you.

As promised, here is the second portion of my results section. *Click here if you haven't read Part I yet!* Again, for some context, here is a copy of my abstract followed by the end of Part VII of my paper. Thank you in advance for reading and remember, if you have any service subjects you’re interested in learning more about, send them my way. Or if you’d like to learn more about the research paper, send me a message here – I’d love to share my findings with you.

Love always,



Positive psychology has jumped to the forefront of countless studies, books, and articles for one simple reason: happiness matters to everyone. Business schools used to teach the ideology of profit above all else; happiness and work were two opposing ideas. Fortunately, the tides are changing. From big businesses like Zappos to new non-profits, entrepreneurs are finally getting the message: positive company culture works. This project illustrates that it is possible to market a feeling. In this work, I explore how one can create an emotion-based movement which is ethically sound, sustainable, and impactful. This work is grounded in an examination of the basic science of happiness and incorporates evidence from personal interviews with entrepreneurs for social change to show the steps they took to achieve success. Lastly, I am hoping to use the knowledge I acquire to launch my own happiness based business.


Part II:

As part of my Capstone, I had originally thrown out some ideas of launching The Smile Project as a social enterprise. With my graduation looming eight months away, I can imagine nothing more exciting than stepping into a new role with the movement. I just had to figure out how to do that.

I spent hours that turned into days that turned into weeks brainstorming ideas for products or services that could be offered by The Smile Project. I tried to think of a way I could center my cause on one focused idea, something I’ve previously struggled with.

Then, I had a breakthrough phone call with my brother where I was spitting words faster than I was breathing air and at the end of my spiel about new ideas and big dreams he said, “Yeah. That sounds good.”

My bright eyes were on fire with possibility at this point but before I could say anything else he continued:

“That’s actually really good. You need to keep thinking like this. You just have to be doing cool stuff all the time.”

My racing mind froze. He was exactly right. I didn’t need a burlap pillow or a game changing scientific discovery. That’s not what I knew. I went back to my talents. But I did know how to write, [how to speak], how to fundraise, and how to bring people together. I jotted his words into my planner, on my bulletin board, and above the light switch…basically anywhere that I regularly would see it to remind myself that The Smile Project isn’t a one-time t-shirt sale…it’s a life-long commitment to be doing “cool stuff.” And I think that’s pretty wonderful.

I will never stop my work with the Project. Not because I have some master plan to become a millionaire from it. Not because I think it’ll make me famous. But because I find myself checking into flow, working tireless, expanding my knowledge and trying new things, completely and utterly dedicated to one thing because I love happiness. I love the idea of sharing it and I love being able to help others see the world a little differently.

So where does this actually leave me? It leaves me with a lot of ideas and a lot of dreams. I would love to brand The Smile Project as a social enterprise. I would love to have a national—heck why not international—happiness movement. I would love the message to resonate with as many people as some of my role model companies like To Write Love On Her Arms have. I would love—simply put—to inspire.

I know a lot more now than I did a few months ago. I have more statistics about happiness than I know what to do with. I’ve learned how truly universal happiness is. Thanks to the pursuit. I was taken to the mountains of Bhutan to learn about Gross National Happiness and the streets of Japan studying an art exhibit. I was in the audience of a dozen different TED talks across the world, studying from the best positive psychologists and understanding how flow can really effect one’s motivation. I’ve been a much more scrutinizing consumer, studying advertisements and promotions to see how—if at all—the company has incorporated an emotion. I made friends who have done the very thing I want to do. Talked to people a year older than me and talked to people 50 years older than me. I learned that communication… is key to every relationship and our relationships are key to impact. I know about values and staying true to your word. I’m learning to define my own success.

I now have a greater understanding of the world I am trying to break into. I have analyzed my pros and cons and garnered a better understanding of the world. I have my lists in order. I suppose now it’s time to take a leap of faith and see where that leads me. Hopefully, I will earn my metaphorical wings on the way down. And if I didn’t know any better, I would imagine it will be something wonderful.

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