“It’s been a year where I’m seeing the things I’m passionate about come together” marvels Margo Chabot, founder of #ProjectGoodness, a community dedicated to noticing and adding to the goodness that surrounds us, as she sits down for our coffee date in Manhattan’s lower east side.
Margo, also known as Yoga Margo on instagram, is a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized study where she studied Positive Psychology, Health, and Wellness. She is a yoga instructor, health coach and goodness advocate. In 2015 Chabot founded #ProjectGoodness. “I had the idea this past summer to design #ProjectGoodness stickers with an arrow to focus one’s attention on the the goodness around them and the goodness inside of them.” #ProjectGoodness has brought a great deal of inspiration both in the world of social media as well as in the outside world with stickers already reaching 22 countries and counting.
My Heart Project (MHP): Can you share a little about yourself and the journey that led you to create #ProjectGoodness?
Margo Chabot (MC): 3 and 1/2 years ago I completed my yoga teachers training program and started my instagram account, Yoga Margo, to inform people about my yoga classes. I found myself wanting to share the inspiring things that I came across. My first few pictures were probably from Pinterest. And then I started looking around. Ever since, I’ve continued documenting these uplifting messages only to see those message more and more and to not only see a change in the actual things in my environment but it has become a way of being, of thinking and of getting through problems. I’ve learned that by documenting goodness and looking out for it, it ends up spilling over and affecting everything around you.
After awhile of sharing these photos I would often be asked ‘Where do you see these things Margo? I walk down the same streets as you. I don’t see it.’ I’d tell them that if they pay attention they too would begin noticing the goodness around them. Those same people started sending me photos of the good they began to find. And for me that was it! That’s the magic because that means they weren’t just inspired by the pictures I posted but they were inspired to go about their day differently. They were inspired to focus their attention. The stickers really came out of that.
And in a world where there's so much we can't control, our attention is ours, and we can choose what to focus on. Focus on the goodness, and that's what you'll find. Everywhere!
MHP: You studied positive psychology, health and wellness at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. What was the source of inspiration that encouraged you to pursue such a major?
MC: I was always interested in helping people. I’m still interested in health and well being….I went to Gallatin where I was constantly pushed to think about the things I wanted to learn. It was an amazing program that helped me grow.
One class in particular that really influenced me was a class in positive psychology. Every week we spoke about things like gratitude, and optimism, spirituality and nutrition and different conditions that people do well under. We’d look at studies and read literature. It was my first introduction to a lot of these concepts.
MHP: What have you learned from your studies that you have been able to apply in your own life?
MC: In my positive psychology class I was first introduced to the 3 good things experiment: How the experiment works is that everyday you write down 3 things that went well for you that day. It can be hard to think of 3 things at first but the more you do it, the more you begin to notice those things as they happen and you start to “tag” them as good things - Which enhances the “good thing” as it's taking place.
Also, I was was constantly pushed to think about the things I wanted to learn and my goals. They basically taught me to be introspective and to think about what you like and what your interests are. So my concentration was constantly evolving.
MHP: Through your studies and life experience as a yoga instructor and goodness advocate what are the conditions you’ve noticed where people really thrive and live their happiest most positive life?
People really begin to thrive when they start focusing on the things that are going well in their life. It can actually make the things around them go even better. People thrive when helping others. It feels good to do good. Connection is also very important. Spend time with friends and family. They are your support system. I read a study that people’s happiest moments happen in the presence of others whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. And having gratitude. Gratitude helps put things into perspective. So, kindness, recognizing goodness, having connection and gratitude are all the conditions where people can begin to thrive and do their best.
MHP: How can people get involved with #ProjectGoodness
Explore what goodness means to you. Answer the questions that will come with your #ProjectGoodness packet that pertain to noticing the goodness in yourself, others, and your surroundings.
Focus. Commit to focus your attention to one, or all, of these places.
Add to the goodness. Once you are aware of the goodness that already is in your life, you can expand on it and add to it! For example, if it’s for someone you care about it could be as simple as sending a sweet note or a phone call.
Share your experience. You never know who you might inspire. If you choose to use Instagram, #ProjectGoodness so that I can highlight your story.
Taking time to notice these things will open your eyes to the best things in life. The goodness that surrounds us always just waiting be discovered.
MHP: How has the use of social media aided in the growth & purpose of #ProjectGoodness?
MC: I’m aware of the pluses and minuses of social media and how it can make people feel a “lack of” but it’s important to acknowledge the potential social media has connecting and inspiring others. It is because of that shared inspiration and connection that #ProjectGoodness came to be. If I was taking all these pictures and only keeping them for myself what fun would that be? What really makes #ProjectGoodness is the fact that I get to share those uplifting messages and I get to meet people who share that same vision.
MHP: What have you learned since creating #ProjectGoodness and watching this community grow?
MC: I’ve learned that there are so many great people out there, interested and goodness and passionate about inspiring others.
I've also learned how important it is to make things happen in a realistic way and to actually have them come to fruition. I look up to company's that just start and go. Maybe they are not at their best in the beginning but they continue to add and to grow with time. When I made the #ProjectGoodness stickers I had no experience in making stickers and designing those stickers you see. It continues to be a learning experience.
And lastly, lately I’ve become obsessed with the idea that you don’t know the impact of sharing these little reminders. I know from my own experience that little things have impacted me. Recently, this company My Sticky Quotes sent me a pack of inspirational post-its and I put one on the train. I was riding the train for a while and people were getting on and people were getting off. Then someone got on saw this little post it note and took it. I can’t tell you the impact that a tiny note had on him but I did notice the sparkle in his eye when he read it. It said “The harder you work, the luckier you get” and it was a Monday morning.
MHP: Do you have a favorite #ProjectGoodness photo that has been shared with you?
MC: This is a very hard question. I love each and every story and photo shared. Although, when I get a request from a new country (so far we have reached 22) I get extra excited. To think about where those stickers will go and who they will affect keeps me excited and inspired. But, a favorite… I can't choose. There’s one, though, a note written from a son to his mother that I found to be the sweetest, sweetest note. That's just an example of one of the many touching posts shared through #projectgoodness.
MHP: What can we expect from you and from #ProjectGoodness in the future?
MC: I’m currently working on a #ProjectGoodness workbook and creating a book of my photographs. I am also in the process of developing a line of life size goodness reminders, goods that would act as reminders to focus on what's going well. What's lifting you up. The stickers will always be free. Whatever I end up selling will be something that is so much more than just a physical thing you buy. I’m planning on having the #ProjectGoodness products come with information explaining the purpose of the #ProjectGoodness in hopes that the product will encourage people to start noticing all the good things around them.
Also, I’d love to do more speaking engagements. I enjoy teaching and sharing the things that I’ve learned. So, hopefully there will be more opportunities to do that.
As we finish our coffee date Chabot reflects “They get inspiration from me and I get inspiration from them. It’s a circle of goodness." she says of those participating in #ProjectGoodness. "I really believe that when you choose to focus on the things that are going well and try to recognize something that’s ok, even if it's just one thing and even when things are not ok, that’s happiness. That is living life to the fullest!"
To learn more about #ProjectGoodness and join the goodness journey visit #ProjectGoodness
Until next time continue to spread love, give love, & be love!