Hi, I’m back.

Maybe you missed me, but you probably liked the break too, everyone loves a break. I had a pretty long, and exhausting spring. I moved, went to California (twice), and was unable to catch the Belleville Three at Coachella where they launched their North American tour (in my defense they played day three). In this time, I switched career paths and managed to make some new friends and see a lot of old ones too.

But as the days grow longer and (thank God) hotter, we are reminded.. summer is coming.

AND WE ARE EXCITED.

Summer means dancing outside instead of in the dark lit club basements which I also have a love for, the summer means afternoons basking in the sun on patio and listening to more tech house than techno. Luckily disco is great any time of the year. Summer means reaching the island and seeing how the magnificent people at Embrace, Footwork,  and Platform have taken a one stage one off party into the absolutely amazing party it is today.  This year’s island parties boast some of my favourite artists- Black Madonna, anyone?

Summer means the new and improved Digital Dreams Festival now rebranded as just Dreams Festival. It’s set to be held on Echo Beach and is now 19+. Honestly, I lost faith in this homegrown tradition, but love the idea of this, let’s hope it pans out.

In my mind, summer kicks off not only with the first island installment, but also with DEMF. No, it’s not what it used to be, but it’s still Detroit and fuck you if you think you’re too good for Detroit. You’re not.

Then there’s other festivals some near- like Osheaga, and some further like Lollapalooza, Dekmantel, and Selectors. All however, have a focus on music, community and dancing. All my favourite things.

Together we’ll look passed the rainy days and get sun burnt sitting on those patios I mentioned earlier. Days will turn to nights too quickly and sure enough labour day will be upon us before another cold winter. But until then, let’s rejoice in the warm weather and all that we have to look forward to- it’s quite a lot.

Some of you may not know who I am so let me take a second of your time to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Pito (@mp.to), I’m a 27 year old day dreaming amateur photographer/visualist from Toronto and I am constantly out and about ready to Explore x Capture.

My style?

Generally i’d say it’s​​ landscape, with a few candid portrait and crystal ball photographs in between. This past summer I decided to go back to my second home, Portugal as well as explore Spain. I took advantage of my two weeks overseas to experience a trip with a close friend and we explored many cities that included Porto, Lisbon, Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante, Benidorm, Madrid and a few other small stops along the way.


It was a chance to meet new people, get a lot of weight off my shoulders and although it may be cliché, it was a way to “find myself” in a sense. It taught me that life doesn’t end with a breakup or the endless confusion of what you though would be your “destiny”. When I stopped to take in my surroundings, I learned that ultimately, I was ok and my main goal should be to stay happy.

Having indulged into the art of photography for only short period of time now, video was a completely foreign territory to me. I went into this trip with no previous video experience but with the goal to capture moments of myself, my surroundings and of others.

Photography, like many of my previous hobbies, is one that is full of countless amount of people with talent and passion. Some of my biggest inspirations within the art are Jack Morris (@doyoutravel), Lauren Bullen (@Gypsea_lust), Murad Osmann (@followmeto, @muradosmann) and Robert Jahns (@nois7).

I also draw inspiration from my peers that include the likes of Andrei (@eyesofandrei), Diego Barra (@urbvnex) and Mike (@mindz.eye) who are local Toronto, Ontario photographers.

For me, photography is not my job and although it is a passion and hobby of mine, I still use it to escape the hardships and stress that life can bring on.

When I’m out shooting I like to really integrate myself into the surroundings instead of going out looking for a specific shot. Times where I could wander the streets for hours and it would only feel like minutes. Although I’ve been asked countless times and have spent many hours reflecting, I have no major end goal in the art of photography and videography.

The only thing I want from the art is self satisfaction and to be able to inspire others.

Being able to feel my surroundings is an amazing experience. If you take the time to stop and “take it all in” you can gain a completely new appreciation for yourself and what is around you. A perfect example of this was 5 years ago – I disliked my home town, Toronto, I wanted out. Thanks to photography though, my passion, I’ve discovered many great things that the city has to offer. From its diversity, underlying history, and its growth, it has made me think “This city isn’t so bad after all and I’m lucky to be here”.

In a world that is surrounded my social media and the quick access of technology, it’s hard not become obsessed into this art.

This is my first video and I really hope you enjoy it.
Their will be more to come in the future, I promise!

When I was just a little rookie (I had been to one show- Steve Angello at Mansion in London, ON) my car got broken into. The little punks took my iPod (RIP) and ripped through my CDs, glove compartment, and trunk.

My passenger window was a simple fix, what wasn’t as easily mended was the discomfort in my stomach. The feeling that someone – a stranger – had been in my space. They had sat in my driver’s seat, gone through my pictures, maybe even figured out where I lived through pieces of old mail, and ruined my safe space. I loved my car- I had driven it for over 6 years and I literally would have been lost without it. Now, I felt out an alarming sense of anxiety inside of my car instead of the usual feeling of comfort.

I felt sick to my stomach.

If you’re even remotely involved in the underground house music scene, or pick up a newspaper from time to time, you are aware of the terrible acts of violence that occurred this past year at the BPM Festival. Five people lost their lives. Multiple people were injured and thousands were affected.

It hits home.

This was a festival which was frequented by many Canadians, and Torontonians every year. It’s some people’s DEMF- a can’t miss. This was the attendee’s escape from the tribulations and challenges of everyday life- a crummy job, a sick family member, a tough relationship.  This was their safe space; their dance floor, and it was hijacked and broken into by negativity, and violence. It was obstructed by people that don’t believe in the values of which house music and the underground scene was founded- love, joy, acceptance, and respect.

This wasn’t the first time someone filled with malicious intent and hate broke into on of our spaces. We remember the 49  who were lost, the 53 who were injured, and their families during the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in June. Like the culprits in Mexico, the gunman at Pulse didn’t believe in our morals or respect the space that had been taken over by those just looking to release, be amongst friends, and dance.

I go to festivals. I book trips around festival dates, and love exploring the scene in different cities, countries and continents- this is also why I will never move to Vancouver- they can’t even spell nightlife. As I read through the Facebook posts and the news coverage from Playa del Carmen I couldn’t help but think how it could have been me, or one of my best friends dancing away when the shooting occurred.

It’s like when my car got broken into, except unfortunately on a much grander scale. Like my car, our space had been intruded, it was taken from us. However, it’s important to learn from this terrible tragedy, and with the victims in our hearts (and especially in our feet) we keep dancing. We keep the positive, happy, excitement that fills a room before a headliner goes on. It’s important we keep looking at our best friend when the unexpected opener drops a heater and we still help the other girls in the bathroom when they need an extra hair tie, we look out for the stranger who looks like they need a little water, and we keep respecting each other in our scene. Because this is OUR scene. It’s what we love and despite what others will do to attempt to us to stop. We don’t.

We keep going. We keep dancing.

Peace, Disco and Diet Coke

Love,

Claire

PS. Here are two sets from BPM 2017 to keep you dancing and remember why you love this scene so much.

At the end of the year, it’s easy to make lists.

Lists of how you’ll get your lazy ass to the gym, or how I’ll force feed myself vegetables and oatmeal instead of fries and croissants. It’s easy to make lists of your favourite tracks, albums, artists and TV shows. It’s easy to name off your favourite events or parties of the year, the ones where you stayed too late (too early, whatever), the one where your friend opened for a mega super star, and all the little day trips and festivals in-between. It’s easy to list off adventures to Montreal, New York, Dekmantel, Ibiza, and Detroit- even if it’s just for a trip to The Ham Shoppe.

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It’s easy to write lists. But this isn’t one of them. I don’t believe in comparing one party to the next. Each one was different- different artist, different venue, different people attending. Some of the people at these events were my ride or dies. The ones I talk to daily and love with every bit of my heart. Some people are the ones I’d rather just die, okay false- not die, but they could have passed out for the entire duration of the party and I wouldn’t have cared less.

Either way, they were all perrrrrrfect.

Most of my favourite parties are during the holidays, anyway. Holiday parties usually last a little longer, are a little more wild, and probably a bit more sparkly. I love glitter, and during the holidays glitter is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Plus it adds a little something to Christmas Eve dinner with the parents when they see specks of sparkles on your cheek and chest. There are a few more on your  upper thigh and lower back, but those probably won’t be seen… well, depending on your family, maybe they will.

The holidays aren’t about last calls, but about watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with your parents on Christmas Eve. It’s about sneaking outside after your parents have gone to bed to smoke some Christmas tree with your little brother, it’s about letting your cousin have the last slice of apple pie and watching the NBA on Christmas Day and timing your Christmas dinner accordingly (hopefully during that blow out Spurs/Bulls game). Sidenote: the Christmas jerseys this year were amazing. Props to the NBA for not putting fucking sleeves on the players, and for the all black with green font for Minnesota- v cool.

So as we look back at 2016 and think about everything that made it special- the Black Madonna being named DJ of the year, the boiler room sets released at Dekmantel, getting on guestlist when you didn’t deserve to get on guest list, the toast Snapchat filter, and lil Yachty, and ignore the dumb shit that we had to suffer through- RIP Bowie, Shawty Lo, the EU, the environment, and America.

So thank you to everyone that made 2016 suck less. Thank you to the creatures I run into at King and Portland at any time of day or night- despite King St being terrible, it is my hood and I love the croissants at Jimmy’s so it ain’t that bad. Thank you to the freaks who stay on the dancefloor past last call and into the early morning. Thank you to the friends who keep me up past my bedtime because who the fuck likes to sleep on a Sunday night anyways.

Here’s to the 52 cans of Diet Coke I received on my birthday.

I love you all.

Smell ya.

Welcome to the first episode of the monthly video series, Sukoonland! I’m excited to bring some original content and I truly want to showcase our beautiful city of Toronto to start the series and highlight amazing music, sports, food and everything in between.

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First off, I’m happy to give everyone a tour of Sukoonland HQ.
I live in a condo at Maple Leaf Square and my family lives a couple floors down in the same building. I absolutely love the views from my balcony and I wanted to share them with you all. In the process of getting this video series together, I had the opportunity to celebrate my 27th Birthday, which lands on Halloween. You can imagine that it always ends up as an epic time! We fit my crew of 40+ in my condo and headed to Rebel for an amazing night! The whole crew came ready to go hard in costumes and I really felt all the love.

Rebel is the new updated version of Sound Academy and its completely changed the scene in Toronto. It’s a Vegas type establishment with state of the art lights and sounds and always impresses. Acts such as Future and Mark Knight have already performed at Rebel and it will continue to be one of the best clubs Toronto has to offer.

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I’m also one of the most avid sports fan you will ever meet, so it was only fitting to showcase some Toronto sports that i frequent. The Toronto Raptors are my favourite team and every game I watch is always exciting! I was able to go to the opener with my friend Megan, visiting all the way from New Zealand.

Toronto FC is also an in the MLS Playoffs and I witnessed an impressive 2-0 win for the home team. In term of sports culture, our city has some of the most passionate fans in North America…

Even though we haven’t been winning as many trophies as we would like.
dji-mavic-drone-unboxingLastly I finally got my new DJI Mavic Pro drone after months of waiting.

Its one of the first 20 in Canada, and it is exhilarating and easy to fly.

I recorded my first flight in City Place and cant wait to get more footage for you all. With its 4K camera and 5KM range the possibilities are endless.

There is still a ton to come with Sukoonland, we’re only getting started so stay tuned!!

Know when to say yes, & then scream it. Know that there will be nights when the best move is to go home and crawl into bed. Know when the party is going to get better, and then stay out later. Know that you deserve it.

What do I mean by this? It means don’t waste your time, money or energy attending a show or event that isn’t exactly what you’re craving.

We’re extremely lucky in Toronto.

There’s a dance music subculture for everyone- disco deviants, the house heads, the techno snobs, the AM Acid listeners and everything in between. I urge you to explore all these subcultures and find the one that fits you and your tastes.

So, after years of attending, hosting, reviewing and promoting parties, this is what I look for.

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Music: What’s being played? Do you like it? Does it make you want to flail around like a madman without any regard for what you look like to others? Is it that can’t eat- can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence world series kind of feeling? If yes, stay.

People: The people at events matter. Look beside you, now look to the other side of you. Are they your friends? Are they smiling? Do they look as excited as you are about being in this space, listening to this music, and being in this moment as you are? If you answer yes, you’re probably with who you were meant to be with.

Price: Yes, I like free/cheap events as much as the next person, but good events cost money. In order to ensure the organizers can continue to throw parties, they have to make back their costs. What does this mean? Pay for a ticket. If you want to support a culture, the first thing you can do without much effort at all is pay for a ticket. This shows more support than you know. Selling tickets in advance help organizers plan a better night for you. So while you may want to message this ex girlfriend or your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend to put your name on list- don’t. If you want to attend an event and see more of those events- pay for it.

Venue: Make it cool, and abstract. There’s so many great spaces and venues in Toronto, but often we get stuck thinking inside the box. I don’t have any time for that- pretend the box doesn’t exist. Then think about where you want to go.

Sound: I want to feel it. I want the sound to be clear, crisp, and bold. if you’re paying money to see an artist, a label showcase, or anything in between and the sound isn’t of the highest quality, I suggest you re-evaluate. Make sure the highs are as noticeable as the mids, and the lows you can feel in your soul. This is good sound. Don’t settle for anything else.

Production: What are the visuals? Are you inspired? I’ve seen shows play old black and white movies, moving shapes and graphics, minimalist videos, lights and everything in between. Sometimes the show is presented in conjunction with an art exhibit or gallery opening- which I’ve always loved. Creativity fosters creativity. It turns the event from a concert, or an art show, to an artistic and creative experience. These are the little extra bits that you’ll remember and tell your friends about a month down the line , when you can’t really remember the full set or have trouble remembering who was there. The extras will remind you why you loved the whole experience.

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These are the factors and characteristics I look for and think about when at an event. These are what I think about when I first contemplate going home. I think about the music, the people, and the space. I ask myself will this event or show ever happen again to this degree. Sometimes, the answer is yes, and you head home. But most of the time, the answer is no, so you put  your phone back in your pocket and surrender your soul to another dance floor.

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A photo posted by claire mcarthur ✨ (@thatcbear) on

Welcome to the Diet Coke Diaries
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In the spirit of this past weekend’s holiday, I think it’s appropriate to note that there’s a lot to be thankful for when you live in a city like Toronto- no, I’m not talking about the6, the6ix, Tdot. None of that. This is about Toronto.

TORONTO.

You can call the city out for the problems (like the laundry list of Drake inspired nicknames), and we all know them and have heard them a thousand times- the “early” last call, the cover charges, and most of King Street, save a few fav spots– shout out Locals Only and the soon to be Baro (RIP Escobar).

But there’s a lot more to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for the kids in the scene. 

The ones you see on Tuesday nights, the warriors of Thursdays and the ones who ignore that Monday comes after Funday Sunday.  We can be thankful for venues both small and big that accept us as who we are and spit us out at the end of the night with our best friend beside us, both asking each other, if we’ve ever had a better night. This happens almost once a month to me.

I feel lucky that we have something for everyone. We have dark tech, feel good house and trippy acid. I am thankful for everyone that I get to meet and work with in the underground dance music scene in Toronto. The ones I don’t trust at all and the ones I would with my life. I love our scene and I am so grateful to start writing for Press Play, again.

I started writing about dance music like most bloggers – putting up a weekly post on my personal blog with SoundCloud and Youtube links to my favourite tracks of the week. I would post deep house and techno, and probably a hip-hop track or two as well. I loved these songs and I felt it was my civil duty to share it with others. I started writing about shows, doing reviews and interviews with artists once I moved to Toronto in December 2013. The dance music and underground scene swallowed me whole by February and I have no plans on leaving.

I was very happy when my role in the scene grew when the man, the myth , the legend, Mr. Steve Hale asked me to join him and Yung Choe at My Side Project in 2015 and have since been involved in some really dope parties. I believe in investing in something if you truly believe in it and if you want to see something prosper, you have to support it. So this is how I help advance the scene. I throw parties, make bookings, sell tickets, share posts, write content and most recently, I was very fortunate to be asked to write for Press Play.

My monthly column will relate back to our home- Toronto. I’ll be writing about venues you didn’t know you needed to try, upcoming shows you’d be crazy not to miss, and maybe even a trick or two about how to squeeze your GA-self onto guest list. (hint: it’s starts with a cup of coffee and a cookie). All these thoughts and ideas that I`m excited to share with you usually come to me while I’m standing at the bar day dreaming- Diet Coke in hand. These are my diary entries…

So, while I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving weekend and spent some wholesome time at home, I hope you are all prepared for the winter that is upon us because we all know it’s not about the days getting shorter, but about the nights getting longer.

Allow me to re-introduce myself; my name is Sukoon aka 2Fly and welcome to Sukoonland.

The reason I started this project is to showcase my endless love for new music, travel and culture. My personality and lifestyle requires non-stop change in regards to music, travel, food and social life. I’m attempting to give an in-depth look at my experiences with music I love, events in my hometown, Toronto and of course, in other places around the world; my travels abroad in search of and exciting cultures.

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As a young child growing up in Africa, I was always drawn to the rhythms’ of drums. My parents told me I often danced on stage when local bands would play, my love for music started forming quick. During my early years in Canada, I would continually be asked to burn Hip Hop CD’s for friends with the freshest tracks. Everyone knew I had the best their was.

Eventually, while I was in University, I started travelling more often and visiting music events abroad like Lollapalooza & EDC. There was no better way to stay entertained on the road then to play music, so I purchased the NI S2.

sukoonland-1Music has been an essential part of my life for a long time, I appreciate new music and try to find as much of it as I can daily; It’s a passion that is continuous.

My friends often refer to me as “Jet Life” – it has truly changed me as a person. After my first solo trip to Thailand, I knew at that moment that I had to continue exploring the world and visit all 195 countries, on my own or not! Living in North America, we are often transfixed in our bubble of society and their is so much more to life than constantly working a 9-5.

Now, as a more seasoned Jet Life member I’ve successfully visited 29 countries total, including regions that wouldn’t be considered your traditional vacation destinations.

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Stay tuned for the first, official episode of Sukoonland as i look to offer my perspective on music, events, food, travel and culture. And of course, i’ll include my favourite tracks*.

*Burning CD’s not included

 

 

 

From August 15th to August 23rd – Toronto Mens Fashion Week debuted the Spring/Summer 2017 collection at the Mattamy Centre in downtown Toronto. Some returning favourites included designers such as: Hendrixroe, Caffery Van Horne, and Finezza to name a few. These talented designers explored the opportunities to showcase their brand in unique ways that allowed the audience to get an authentic experience of what each brand means and represents.  Zane Barlas shined through this way by bringing his roots of Saudi Arabia into his modern men’s fashion line. This is Barlas’ second consecutive season presenting at TOM* and his runway made sure that he should definitely be back for a third.

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Zane Barlas @ TOMFW S/S17
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Zane Barlas @ TOMFW S/S17

The showstopper this year was the collaboration with “BEATLES 50 T.O.” TOMFW teamed up with the City of Toronto to bring forward 50 different looks from a variety of designers. Each of these looks represented a style that the Beatles brought to life. Coincidentally, this was held on the anniversary of the last Beatles performance in Toronto, in the same theatre, the Mattamy Centre, which happened 50 years ago to the day. Below are some of our favourite looks from the BEATLEMANIA show.

RUDSAK @ TOMFW S/S17
RUDSAK @ TOMFW S/S17
Hendrixroe @ TOMFW S/S17
Hendrixroe @ TOMFW S/S17

As the week of fashion came to close, TOM* Executive Director and Founder, Jeff Rustia Gold, made an impacting statement at the very end, leaving many excited. TOMFW will now produce a Toronto Women’s Fashion week. This comes after the news of the cancellation of Toronto Fashion Week.  If there was any speculation that Toronto was not a fashion forward city – TOMFW definitely made it’s mark to show the future of fashion that the city has to offer.

The evening of Friday, July 24, while on my way to Niagara for a weekend trip with my coworkers, I was thinking about . . . nothing. It was beautifully sunny, the window was down, and my hair was cooperating with the breeze. All was carefree, which is exactly what led me to notice that I was thinking about nothing, consequently prompting thought. This is why I love travel, I recalled for the first time in almost a year: the takeoff. It’s that moment you leave and realize whatever you were stressing about before doesn’t matter.

That is, if you remember to take off. You reside wherever your head resides. You can physically cross the ocean without ever mentally leaving home. You can land on another continent without arriving. You can be somewhere without being somewhere. Ultimately, you live your mind.

That’s a powerful concept. The mind can be both a dangerous and beautiful place, depending on how you’ve trained yours to function. Mine’s been on both sides of the spectrum. Before The Happiness Experiment, I thought my mind was going to kill me. Thanks to my tenacious spirit that, at age 23, decided that wasn’t going to happen, my mind ironically saved my life.

One of the tactics I used to make myself more present-focused was choosing to treat my life like a vacation. I always wanted to fly away, but I hadn’t until then really asked myself why. I knew I wanted to escape my life, but what was it that I loved so much about travel that I felt I couldn’t get at home? My answer was not Italian accents or ancient architecture or hot weather, though I like all of those things. It was the takeoff. It was that no matter how anxious and depressed I normally was, I would switch my mindset to be carefree as soon as I left. What I didn’t realize until age 23 was that it was my head conducting the change in perspective, not the planes. Upon that realization, I asked myself: Why shouldn’t I always think as I do while on vacation? Why shouldn’t I regularly live like today is more important than tomorrow or yesterday? Why shouldn’t I relax? There was no reason. I learned to unwind, and my world evolved into what I never thought my world could be: happy.

But happiness requires maintenance. It requires ongoing experimentation to see what works and doesn’t work to fulfill you as you change. So, last summer, when I started freaking out at age 24 about where my life was going (happiness tip: don’t do that!), I was kind of banking on change of place to prompt change of mentality. I hoped Europe, both Italy and France, could help my thoughts back to present tense. I had already learned that’s not quite how it works, but I was desperate because I was hurt.

“Here’s what I’m going to do,” one of my coworkers said to me after 2 am in the basement of the Queen’s Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. “I remember you saying you got homesick in Europe, right?”

“Mm-hmm,” I nodded with a smile, touched that he remembered the conversation he and I had about travel in the office kitchen months before.

“I’m going to give you a list of places to go where you won’t get homesick, because I’ve travelled a lot of the States.”

Cue my heart melting at his thoughtfulness.

“I was trying to get over a guy at the time,” I smirked in explanation.

He laughed, waving his finger in understanding.

I laughed with him.

Although I already knew I could have my vacation mindset at home, Paris was the first time in all of my travels that I experienced home problems on vacation. Foolishly hoping for a guy that wasn’t interested in me was a home problem. It was not supposed to come to Paris with me. Paris was magical, and he was not to put a reality check on my magic.

And he didn’t.

I did.

And I’m glad I did. That was the start of me getting over him. That night I cried at the Eiffel Tower was my fuck-this, I’m-moving-on point. It would be a long process. It would take until early July of this year, to be honest. But I would get there. That night I cried at the Eiffel Tower was my change in perspective, and it had nothing to do with where I was. It was the result of my head finally catching back up to the present.

You see, friends, your thoughts travel with you, and that’s okay. Just remember to think in the now. Go into your adventures wholeheartedly, and feel free to redirect yourself as needed. You are allowed to do whatever makes you happy at any given moment; and as long as you are happy, wherever you go, even if you never board a plane to get there, I promise you’ll be well travelled.
About the Author

Maria Bellissimo was the protagonist of a sad, boring life until she turned her story into a happiness experiment. She chronicles her adventures in happiness on her appropriately named blog, The Happiness Experiment, which she hopes will inspire others to experiment with happiness. You can follow The Happiness Experiment on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.