Woman travels across the nation to research happiness, stops in Twin Falls

Published: Oct. 30, 2018 at 6:33 PM MDT
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A woman from Vermont has been traveling the country by foot for years, researching and studying happiness.

"I raised my family in Vermont, but right now my address is in my shoes," said Paula Francis, a woman who is traveling more than 8,000 miles to talk to random strangers about happiness.

The one question she asks: What matters most in life?

"This is a project of Gross National Happiness USA. We believe that there can be more happiness in this world and one way to do that is to pay attention to it," she said.

Francis co-founded the non-profit organization

. The organization is dedicated to researching happiness and measuring the progress and success to reach it.

Francis then decided to the Happiness Walk. With more than 6,700 miles under her belt, going on her fourteenth pair of tennis shoes, she's walked through 23 states talking to more than 2,000 people.

She documents these conversations with random strangers by taking videos or audio recordings on her cell phone.

"The most common people thing people say is our connections to one another and caring for one another. That’s phenomenal," she said.

She said she finds that people are not spending enough time listening to one another.

"People’s story really matter, so that’s the benefit of this walk is to really get a sense of who we are," she explained.

Francis said it's a gift to be on the receiving end, listening to others express what matters to them in life.

"My job is to just listen. I think people appreciate that," she continued.

"Often times people start crying because it’s a heartfelt question that has people really reflect on what really does matter in life."

She said the ultimate goal is to have concrete information that can be shared with policymakers at all levels.

"Whether it'd be local school boards up to the national level," she said.

Francis said there are 2,000 more miles of interviews to document and will end her walk in New England. She hopes to finish walking sometime next year.