Written by : Hannah Sentenac

On a Happy Note

Happy wall in Miami

My favorite part of The Happy Wall is watching it from a distance. Curious, people walk gingerly around the perimeter, smiling as they read what others have written. Then, they pick up a piece of chalk and make their own addition. It’s a joy to witness other people’s joy!

A bumpy road

I wanted to create something interactive and fun. In the end I am thrilled with my giant chalkboard art installation that asks people, “What makes you happy?” With the help of many collaborators, The Happy Wall went up November 29 in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami.

It took me a long time to reach a place where I could make such a joyous thing happen. I spent much my youth struggling to feel anything but miserable, inadequate and anxious. I finally broke free from depression’s steely grip, and that journey inspired me to help others struggling with similar issues.

Pursuing happiness

I started turning my attention toward writing and speaking about the pursuit of happiness. I talked to others about overcoming depression and how to live a joyful life. But I wanted to do more.

The response to the wall has been heartwarming. Every day, hundreds of people make their mark on the wall, drawing, doodling and writing.

What makes you happy?

From beer and lacrosse to singing out loud, from reading a good book to being vegan, from kindness to guinea pigs—you never know what makes people happy, and what you’ll find scrawled on the wall. Elaborate drawings of family movie day, surf scenes, odes of love!

Popular topics include family, friends and boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives … when people are asked to stop and really consider their priorities, love is often at the top of the list.

The wall is a place of positivity and engagement. More than anything, I wanted people to realize happiness is a choice.


Visit Hannah Sentenac's Happy Wall at Cocowalk, 3015 Grand Ave., Miami, Florida., through Jan. 2, 2015. Learn more at TheHappyWall.org.

Hannah would like to thank sponsor Happify and partners KIND Snacks, Brent Berman & Associates, Tervis, the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures and Pine View Engineering Club of Osprey, Florida.

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