"One of the most powerful forces in human nature is our own belief that change is possible" - Shawn Anchor
I have long been aware of the negative comments made concerning West Virginia, and like so many West Virginians, I have been very disheartened to hear the stereotypical remarks. In 2008, the Gallup Poll initiated a study of the health of all fifty states, taking into account five indicators: Purpose (whether or not a person feels their life is fulfilling), Health factors (smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.), Community Support, Social Relationships, and Financial well-being.
In 2008 West Virginia was in the 49th position for health/happiness. Since that time West Virginia has ranked 50th, thus causing us to be labeled as the "least happy" state in America.In 2014 I read an article in the Washington Post, commenting on the most recent Gallup Poll Healthway results, and the lead line in the article stated, "It must stink to live in West Virginia. "I began trying to figure out what could be done to affect a positive change in the attitude of persons outside WV, as well as those who call West Virginia home.
In 2015, I was fortunate to see an interview with Michelle Gielan concerning her newly published book, Broadcasting Happiness. She spoke of her life long desire to become an anchor for a large TV network, and when that opportunity occurred, the economic downturn of 2007 had begun to grip America. The news was very dismal however, Michelle began to search for positive stories within the negative news and found that viewers responded overwhelmingly in greater numbers to the stories with a positive focus. She was so inspired by her discovery of the effect of positive news on people, she gave up her job with CBS and enrolled in University of Pennsylvania to study "positive psychology" - the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organizations to thrive. Harvard, as well as, University of Pennsylvania has been a leader in the field of positive psychology--in fact, the most popular course in the history of Harvard was the class on Happiness..I began reading many books on this relatively new field of psychology, and became convinced that positive news and stories about West Virginia needed be highlighted and encouraged.
In 2016, I was discussing, once again, the Gallup Poll Healthway study that had just been released and West Virginia was once again in last position for health and happiness. A friend, knowing my son had a tee shirt business suggested a shirt be made with the state on it and the words, "Happiness is a state of mind." I told my son about the suggested tee and he promptly said, "Change one letter and have the message be, "Happiness is a state of mine." I needed no further convincing, I immediately applied for a trademark and began having shirts made with this positive message.
I am in hopes that this slogan will be embraced by West Virginians throughout the Mountain state and will have a positive impact on how we view ourselves, and how we address the challenges before us.Since beginning this project, I have become aware of so many people and organizations dedicated to making out state " healthier and happier."
"We're finding it's not necessarily reality that shapes us, but the lens through which our brain views the world that shapes our reality. And, if we can change the lens, not only can we change our happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time."