How it all began...

The story of Happiness Club begins with a guy named Ben Larrison, a group of his friends, a simple philosophy, and a Facebook group.

The vision of Happiness Club was simple: try to foster a community of happiness at Northwestern through fun events and simple acts of kindness. The club’s first event, Free Hugs and Hot Chocolate, did just that. It took place on one of those cold, harsh winters that are all too familiar in Evanston, IL. Happiness Club members stood outside the campus library and offered students free hugs and free hot chocolate the night before finals week. The event proved wildly popular – it has since become a Happiness Club end-of-quarter tradition – and spurred further interest in the club from fellow students. In March 2008, Ben held the first official Happiness Club meeting in his own apartment.

In the year that followed, the club held several successful events, including a Happiness Club t-shirt making night, a pumpkin carving day, and the ever-popular Candy and Compliments, for which Happiness Club members wrote more than 1000 compliments on post-it notes, which they then attached to pieces of candy and passed out to students on their way to class.

Happiness Club closed out the 2008-2009 school year by constructing a sandbox in the middle of Northwestern’s campus, and conducting the club’s first sidewalk chalking event, covering Northwestern’s campus with smiley faces, hopscotch boards, and fun phrases. Its last event of the year was a Happiness Club T-Shirt fundraiser, which brought in enough money to sustain the club into the following year.

Ben graduated from Northwestern in 2009, and passed the leadership role in the club down to Alex Wilson, a rising sophomore who had been heavily involved in the club’s activities ever since arriving on campus.

Becoming an official student group…

After a lot of thought and consideration, the Happiness Club decided to apply for official student group recognition at Northwestern, and on February 1, 2010, Happiness Club received T-Status (temporary status) recognition through the Associated Student Government at Northwestern.

As a “legitimate” student group, the club was able to put on its most successful events ever. Happiness Club kicked off Spring Quarter 2010 with a Silent Dance Party, where dozens of students gathered together and danced to a shared playlist that only they could hear through their iPods. A few weeks later, Happiness Club held its second sidewalk chalking event, chalking a half-mile long stretch of sidewalk on Northwestern campus with fun games, motivational quotes and phrases, and of course: smiley faces. To top it all off, the club declared the last week of classes “Happiness Week,” with exciting events taking place every day. Highlights of the week included Nametag Day – a day where the club handed out thousands of nametags to students all over campus to increase random interactions between peers and classmates – and Flashback Friday – a celebration of games and memories from childhood, including jump rope, four square, Play-Doh, snack foods, and even a parachute!

Happiness Club’s events were so successful that on November 8, 2010, the club received student government B-Status recognition – making it an official student group at Northwestern! Since then, the club has continued to expand, developing new and original ideas while working to perfect the already-successful ones.


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