Name: Gina Schöler
Project: Ministry for Happiness and Well-being
Field: Social Design, Social Innovation, Social Intervention
Focus: Campaign organisation, workshop planning, presentation, event organisation, PR
Location: Mannheim, Germany
Even back as a graduate student I realised: I want more out of life. I want to do more than “just” work in advertising. I realised that people can use their creative and communicative skills to really do something good and important. And that is why I decided to go into advertising values. It’s meaningful – and fun! So I do freelance work for agencies that accept mainly socially oriented or sustainable projects as well as for non-profit organisations and associations. Since I have become the self-appointed Minister for Happiness, I have been bringing together all of these aspects in my project “Ministry for Happiness and Well-being” and work on creative ways to help our gross national happiness (GNH) grow.
There’s more to it than what meets the eye
Since I began focusing on topics such as happiness and well-being and have got to know the extensive world of social design, I am convinced that designers can do more than just produce pretty, colourful things. We can help make this world a better place by using our skills to make complex issues visually accessible to the public, to present them in an understandable and creative manner and help contribute possible solutions.
You can reach a great deal of people with good, clear design projects and creative ideas. There are many opportunities to draw public attention to important issues and problems that deserve to be attended to or need to be solved.
The path to gross national happiness – a group effort
I have been running the multi-media communications campaign “Ministry for Happiness and Well-being” for a few years now and I work Europe-wide as a freelance Minister for Happiness, working with people to come up with diverse, creative ways to increase the gross national happiness in their respective country.
With inspiring events and lively activities such as interventions in public spaces, street art, workshops in schools and companies, I call on people to ask themselves what it means to them to lead a good life – and to become actively involved in creating a good life.
Time and again I am fascinated by how much positive feedback we get from the public, be it in social networks, through email or people that talk to me personally at events and workshops. I give people down-to-earth ideas and material that they can use in everyday life and that they can use in their own activities. Fun, creative input help people realise that happiness is something that everyone can discover for themselves each and every day and that happiness can grow and be shared with others. And since this is a multi-media campaign, I have all the artistic freedom I want and need. Sometimes I film interviews, sometimes I set up an online contest, give a workshop that combines methods of design thinking with happiness or I offer an inspiring film night with time for a discussion afterwards. Whatever the media used, the goal is constant: Empowering people. Bringing people together and creating shared spaces and experiences and getting people to step outside of their comfort zone.
Happiness means change
I always work intuitively. I have buried my business plan deep in my bottom desk drawer. I don’t want to define a target group, I want to be in constant contact and exchange ideas with the project’s fans and friends and expand my network. I work on exciting cooperative projects and enjoy the fact that my job is part of a happiness project, if you will. As is life.
Happiness is movement – in the sense of change. Everything is in transition, it seems that things around us are changing faster and faster all the time and our job is to accept these changes and make the best out of them. That is the art of life: Taking advantage of the opportunities change can offer.
And if my work can contribute to the positive outcomes of these changes, then that makes me very happy.