Are you happy? It’s ok to say no. Many of us have problems finding balance after the turmoil of divorce. When we do seek happiness, it tends to be from an activity: we go running, do yoga, share dog videos, drink a glass of wine. But we don’t always manage to share our struggles with others. Maybe we put on a brave face for our friends and family, saying “I’m fine” when sometimes we’re not. Or maybe we just don’t have many people in our lives we can talk to honestly and openly.
A New Orleans-based startup, the Happiness Amplification Project (HAP), wants to help. They are currently seeking volunteers to participate in short phone conversations to help improve mood and promote happiness. They want you to vent, free of charge. Founded by three Princeton psychologists, the good people at HAP believe that a brief conversation with a compassionate person can significantly boost your mood. These conversations are completely confidential, free, and callers will be able to “rate” their experience after each call. Interested? Check out the website for more information and to sign up for a call: www.happinessamplificationproject.org.
What should you expect on a HAP call? The first thing you’ll notice is that this isn’t therapy. No one is trying to psychoanalyze you or talk about your dreams. The folks on the other end of the line (HAP calls them “providers” ) want to learn about your problems and be supportive, helpful listener for you. And don’t worry, no one is going to ask you sign up for a course or ask you to buy anything! Mainly, HAP providers help you to understand the qualities within yourself that make you well-suited to handle your problems and live a happy and productive life. A one-on-one conversation can take 5 minutes or an hour, however long it takes for you to walk away feeling renewed.
How effective are HAP calls? While the project is ongoing, HAP is already finding that conversations are giving people exactly what they’re looking for. Here’s what a couple of HAP participants had to say about their experiences:
“Living in California is quite competitive physically, mentally, socially, and professionally. While I do not prescribe to ‘social norms’, I find it difficult to speak with colleagues or friends about my feelings. The result – loneliness. After speaking with HAP, I felt at peace. I was validated not judged. An invaluable discussion – a ‘meeting of the minds’. The feeling of contentment left me at odds. Why was I spending so much on individual therapy sessions when these phone calls are an option? Having a sounding board that is available weekly is a breath of fresh air. Speaking with HAP has been an uplifting experience and a lesson that I am not entirely alone. A contemporary way to meet my emotional needs. My choice: an hour to speak with a professional regarding my feelings or purchase a good bottle of wine? I choose the one that doesn’t cause depression or a hang-over! Thank you, HAP. You give a good buzz!”
“It was a 50-minute call, where I rumbled and rumbled, but what I got from it – it’s just indescribable. You have empowered me to dig deeper and to believe more in myself. As I appreciated hearing these nice things from someone who doesn’t know me, I hope this will matter to you: you really made a difference. You gave me a lot to think about and to be proud of, so with tears in my eyes, thank you!”
One of most exciting elements of HAP is its end goal; a world where where emotional support is more readily available than it is today. HAP envisions a community of supportive people across the world who dispense support and encouragement to the millions who need it. For now, HAP wants to invite as many people to call in with as many different types of problems as possible so they can get a sense of what type of support works best for each caller.
So go ahead and reach out – a compassionate HAP provider is waiting to help boost your mood!