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Natural Awakenings Richmond

National Happiness Walk Traverses Virginia

(L-R) Paula Francis and Linda Wheatley

Paula Francis and Linda Wheatley are walking around the United States to learn what happiness really means to Americans. The pursuit of happiness is a central tenet of the Declaration of Independence and this duo is on a mission to promote it. 

Francis and Wheatley walked away from careers to pursue their dream of conducting this multi-year happiness study, collecting stories about what matters to the people they meet along the way. They are over 1,000 miles into the 8,000-mile journey and their walk took them through Virginia in early November. 

When asked about their time in Virginia, they noted an element of spirituality in most answers about happiness. They also said they learned firsthand that Southern hospitality is not a myth.

Working with interns from the University of Vermont, Francis and Wheatley compile and present their findings in a number of ways—through speaking engagements, blog posts, articles and a future book. A website was created to follow their journey and contribute to this happiness endeavor.

For more information, visit