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#JoyWeek2016 - A Final Recap

An honest letter of unedited thoughts:

What a week. When I first realized that November 9th 2016 – 5 years to the date of the first Happiness is post – would fall the day after the 2016 Presidential Election, I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad thing. I thought about how most people loathe election season, or at least use it as a time to mercilessly complain on Facebook. Maybe this would be perfect, I thought, I would be able to share some positivity on a day when people would already be happy that the election season was over.

I could have never predicted what would happen. As many of you read in my recent non-Joy Week related blog post – this week became a major challenge for me very quickly. This week was supposed to be the biggest week for The Smile Project yet. Five years was a huge milestone. I was beyond excited. This – selfishly – meant so much to me.

Then… well, then this week happened. I found myself in a daze most of Wednesday. Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 – 5 years to the date of the first Happiness is post. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about this for years. The feeling of five full years of Joy. It felt so wildly unrealistic and yet perfectly right.

Yet there I sat, at my desk Wednesday afternoon, wondering what the point of it really was anyway. In a very dramatic fashion, I sent a text to my friend about how five years was fine to stop. Nothing seemed to matter anymore anyway. Asking people to partake in Joy Week or to post about Happiness seemed so irrelevant when there were so many people in fear and shock and anger and heartache.

As always, he was thoughtful and patience in his response: We need this now more than ever.

I came home and naturally spent hours writing about what I was thinking and feeling and trying to decide where to go next. I didn’t feel right pushing people to talk about Happiness. I didn’t feel right sharing this 5 year milestone.

But then I logged onto Facebook and clicked on the hashtag. And I started to scroll. And as I sat at my desk, I felt my eyes shifting with emotion for the second time this week. Only this time, I was laughing. One, two, three, ten, twenty, thirty… there were dozens and dozens of posts about Happiness. Everyone was sharing their Happiness.

I looked at my Happiness is notebooks – 1 for each year – scattered across my bed and I picked up the new book. I opened the cover and in the kind of bold handwriting reserve for showing someone you aren’t beat yet, I wrote: “Year 6.”

Then, like I have every day for the past 5 years, I posted a Happiness is status. And in the midst of all the struggle and pain that this week has brought, I found Happiness and hope in the people who realized that it is possible to find light in the darkness.

Joy Week 2016 was nothing like I imagined it would be… it was more.

Never has spreading joy, love, acceptance, and peace been more important. Remember that.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Joy Week Celebration.

Let’s do it all again in 365 days.

Love always,


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