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7 Jun

Introducing Whole Family Happiness


The Whole Family Happiness project is two things: first, and foremost, it’s an exercise in exploring what it means to attach our personal happiness to a larger understanding of happiness as a kind of all-encompassing wellness that connects us with each other and the world. But it’s also this: a consideration and exploration of how storytelling can nudge actual social change. Not just in the context of ‘shaping the conversation’ – although shaping the conversation is always a good thing – but in tangible, practicable ways. In partnership with Social Currents and the Low Carbon Economy Narrative Initiative, we’re asking this question: can a story ‘nudge’ someone to more than just reflection on an idea – can it nudge them to some sort of action, direct or indirect? I’ve long taken it for granted that stories are the engines of change – but I’d never really pushed myself on that assumption. Have my own stories driven my own change – or have they just been reflections? How does my storytelling change when I want it to drive toward action – my own, and others? How do we use the medium to go beyond the message?

The first step in any story, of course, is figuring out how to tell it. I’m telling my part by digging into my own family’s journey to whole happiness – the better to connect it to the world around us, and to attach it to real purpose so that we can have the best possible impact on that world. Here’s how I’m unpacking it:

  • By acknowledging that there’s a connection between my own sense of purpose, my family’s purpose, and our happiness, and recognizing that there’s a further connection between that ongoing happiness and the happiness of the future we’re building together and the happiness of the world around us.
  • By evaluating my purpose and my family’s purpose. Effectively, doing what I’d call a Whole Family Happiness Audit: doing an evaluation of what makes us happy in the fullest and broadest sense and asking hard questions about what we’re doing to pursue that happiness, and how that action (or inaction) impacts the world around us.
  • By developing a plan for actively committing to our ‘whole’ happiness – our mental, physical and emotional well-being, the well-being of our environment, and the well-being of the world around us and the world of our future.

Throughout this series, I’m going to walk through what it took, and what it takes, for us to commit to Whole Family Happiness, and to what the (many, many) rewards are for doing that – for us, and for our planet. And storytellers from across Canada and the US are going to help me do that, so that we can weave a communal story of purpose and change: watch here for links to their posts.

I invite you to join me, and that broader community, in committing to Whole Family Happiness.  You’re already committed, I’m guessing – but why not commit together? Check out more stories at our Facebook page – and share your own!


Part I: The Pursuit of Happiness

Part II: The Art of Letting Go