Thursday, September 10, 2009

It starts with a smile…

Like many of us who pay attention to what’s going in the world around us, Washington Park resident Ginny Hutchinson and her longtime friend Cathy Haffner, both former Fortune 100 Company executives, found themselves increasingly disillusioned with the tide of negative news that inundates us on a daily basis. But unlike most of us who recognize the corrosive impact of this barrage of negativity, Hutchinson and Heffner decided to do something about it. They quit their jobs, started a “positive media” company, and wrote a book, Better Because of You, to get the word out. Their message is simple and straightforward: each of us can create the positive change we’d like to see.

The book is designed to show people how to make things better, beginning with their own thinking. It is divided into easily read and digested sections (health, wealth, work, play, for example), and includes many tips from people who have learned lessons about improving their lives using simple strategies. Their motto, and the ultimate goal for their readers, is “be the person your dog thinks you are.”

Better Because of You is part inspirational and part practical, but the focus is clearly on what the individual can do to counter the negativity that pervades our society. In a world where such websites as draw millions of visitors, Hutchinson and Heffner decided that there needed to be a counter movement. They believe that simple daily acts of positiveness by individuals will multiply outward, creating an irresistible momentum for making the world a better place. Hence the concept of “better because..." (you fill in the blank). For example, “better because… I smiled at someone today and it made both of us happier.”

Smiling is, in fact, a good starting point for what Hutchinson and Heffner are trying to accomplish. According to a long-term study by Harvard Professor Nicholas Christakis, who has endorsed Better Because of You, “emotions can pass among a network of people up to three degrees of separation away; so your joy may, to a larger extent than you realize, be determined by how cheerful your friends’ friends’ friends are, even if some of the people in this chain are total strangers to you.” So smiling may be a way of putting some positive energy out there to people you may not even know. Playing this idea forward, Hutchinson and Heffner have the goal of gathering smiles from each of the world’s 192 countries by year’s end, collecting them on their website, Readers are also encouraged to add their personal stories to the website of the ways they are doing big or small things to make their lives (and the lives of those around them) better.

Better Because of You, which is available through and at Elliott Bay Books, includes a giant section of inspirational quotes on a variety of subjects. Here’s one of my favorites:

The mind is like a parachute. It works best when it's open” (Anon.)

(You can also check out Better Because’s fan page on Facebook)

1 comment:

  1. You can also buy it at University Book Store


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