“I had quite a traumatic childhood growing up. I would have seen and experienced things I shouldn’t have. As a child, I didn’t know any different, I thought that was the norm. It was only when I grew up, I realised the serious effects my past had on me. Since the age of fourteen, I have suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies of self-harm. Due to my upbringing, I always thought I was to blame for everything and I needed to punish myself. I had been struggling in silence for so long and I eventually hit rock bottom. I attempted to take my own life and I ended up in a hospital. Up until that point, I didn’t know that there was help out there. But, after a lot of counseling, I realised that kindness was the one thing I could always hold onto. Kindness is the happiness currency that you can use to exchange any time you need it. And after seeing a TedX talk from a First Fortnight volunteer, it gave me the idea to set up The Happy Plug.
My idea is that we can switch happiness on through kindness by tying little handmade tags around lampposts and benches wherever I go. The tags are filled with mostly handwritten positive affirmations. It might be that one thing that someone needs to read to get from A to B. I was in Chester Beatty Gardens a few weeks ago and I tied a note to one of the benches. It was a nice day, so I decided to sit down on one of the nearby benches and wait for people to interact with the note. I saw a few people reading it passing by, but there was a lady who read it and then took a picture with it. Then she sat down and quietly started to cry. I was just there wondering what must have happened. The message on the happy plug must have triggered something in her and maybe made her feel bad. I felt guilty, so I decided to approach her. I told her that I saw her crying and I just wanted to know if she was okay? She said that her mother had just passed away. She felt very alone and in a dark place. She couldn’t see much hope for the future and that message was exactly the thing she needed to read. It said: ‘Hold onto that 1% of Hope. That’s all you need to survive. Don’t let it go.”