“Happiness is infectious, when you feel happy; people around you will surely be infected. Infect more people and make the world a happy home.” – Kemmy Nola
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One of the most stressful places to be in Bengaluru is at a traffic signal – bumper-to-bumper traffic, road rage, and to top it all, a bumpy ride, considering the state of the roads. Everybody is impatient; everybody wants to just get to their destination on time. Tempers flare, horns blare and there is a prevailing state of tension. Can anything be done to diffuse this tension?
Good news Bangalore – there’s a bunch of people in town who are doing just that.
Meet the “Happiness Heroes”, a bunch of happy people, who are looking to spread the joy. What they do is simple – every Wednesday morning, between 8:30 am and 9:30 am, as most of Bangalore rushes to work, a motley crew of Bangaloreans stands at the Lifestyle signal on Richmond Road and attempts to bring a smile on the faces of commuters and passers-by. Each of them is equipped with a poster with a happy message and a huge smile on their face. “Smile O.K. Please” calls out one poster; another has “Hakuna Matata” written on it. Yet another reads “Get happy about nothing”. One more promises “Free Hugs.”
Happiness Heroes found its beginning in a regular conversation at work. Mihira Appnendar, one of the happy people and an employee of The Fuller Life, an HR consultancy, says, “It started with a random conversation with Monica, our HR head, about how we should do something fun at and outside work. And she showed us some things that people around the world were doing. This concept of making and holding up simple posters for commuters, really caught our attention. It was based on the simple concept of happiness, which we think is not given enough importance in our lives/culture.” She adds, “Happiness Heroes is all about making people smile, motivating someone to change their day… with a little help.”
And how do folks respond to them? Some people look at them like they’ve lost their marbles and some others smile back politely, a tad cautious. What makes it worthwhile are those people who are excited by what they see and smile back. Curious bystanders are asked if they want a hug, and if they reply in the affirmative, one tight hug is what they are at the receiving end of. Two-wheeler riders, car drivers, auto rajas, passengers on a bus, jaywalkers, even the traffic cop – no one is spared!
Monica adds, “We’ve had passers-by actually stop and volunteer to hold the posters for a bit. Regular commuters know who we are and wave madly from their windows as they pass by. We once had a college kid who got very excited seeing what we were doing, hopped off the bus and actually bunked a class test to pitch in.”
Kanishka Balachandran, a senior sub-editor at ESPN Cricinfo, crosses this signal on his way to work every day. One fine Wednesday morning he saw the Happiness Heroes at work and immediately posted their picture on Facebook. The picture got 86 likes, with one person even asking them to ‘Please come to Mumbai.’
On being asked if they have any plans to expand, Monica adds, “We hope to move around other major junctions as well, maybe even do a trail from Frazer Town to MG Road and Koramangala. We’re also hoping people follow our lead and do the same at other traffic signals across Bangalore.” It’s not only about doing something to brighten up the day of other people. Mihira says, “You will not believe how many people smile back at us, and in return make our day brilliant!”
So the next time, you’re at the Lifestyle signal on a Wednesday morning, keep your eyes open – rest assured the Happiness Heroes will be around to give you a beautiful start to your day.
Happiness Heroes is on Facebook. Follow them if you like what they do: https://www.facebook.com/happinessheroes.