Alec Lorraine - Chief Happiness Officer, Brighten Labs, Inc.
In 2013, my good friend Austin Kevitch and I were studying abroad together in Cape Town, South Africa. While we were there, we met and befriended a truly awesome guy named Oliver. He was a great kid, very independent and intelligent. Tragically, several months later, Oliver was killed in a rock climbing accident. After he passed, Austin and I began to notice that friends from throughout Oliver’s life began sharing positive memories of him on his Facebook wall. It was amazing to see the outpouring of messages, and we wondered why it had to take such a heartbreaking accident like his to motivate people to write.
Inspired by what we saw and were reading on social media, upon returning home for school, Austin and I bought a ‘compliment box’ – and left it on a table outside our house on campus. Our experiment was simple: as people walked by, we handed out note cards and asked them to write something positive about someone they knew and drop it in the box. At the end of each day, much to our surprise, folks would gather as we opened the box and read the compliments aloud. Some notes were lovey-dovey, and others were hilarious. This much was clear, the messages were fun to receive and even more fun to write.
In looking back on our journey, the biggest thing I’ve learned from working on Brighten is the importance of a silver-lining, glass-half-gull mentality. For most people, our natural thought patterns are pessimistic. We think about what can go wrong, what if something bad happens, and instinctively, first look at the negatives. Working on Brighten has helped me grow in this area, and to always look for the good in everyone and everything. I truly believe that we can all find the good in any situation if we look hard enough.
Today, we are working on ways to extend this mindset and its benefits to the entire world through mobile technology. Brighten’s goal is to help more people find more joy and happiness in their everyday lives. George Carlin summed it up best, “People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.”