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Sunshine for Sun Devils encourages kindness through action. The human brain receives nearly 4,000 pieces of information every day, but our brains choose to pay attention to about 200 of the mostly negative bits of information.
Sarah Tracy, an associate professor of organizational communication in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, says the human brain can be re-trained to think more positively by ‘spreading sunshine’.
Dr. Tracy founded Sunshine for Sun Devils, an initiative that encourages the ASU maroon and gold family to be grateful, kind and appreciative of one another. “The Sunshine for Sun Devils initiative is a structured gratitude giving campaign,” Tracy says. “We try to figure out ways to share gratitude and show kindness to increase the spirit of collaboration and feelings of community in the workplace.”
The campaign was born in 2012 in Dr. Tracy’s “Communication and the Art of Happiness” class explored research on positive organizational scholarship, positive psychology and appreciative inquiry. Work-life well-being research previously focused on problems instead of solutions, but research now shows that positive emotion not only helps the recipient but also helps the provider obtain happiness.
Tracy’s students organized a kindness flash mob that involved giving away goodies such as candy, snacks or words of inspiration to complete strangers. The success of the project led Dr. Tracy and a team of staff and students to launch the Sunshine for Sun Devils campaign as an action research project to develop positive collaboration and community in the Hugh Downs School and the ASU community, and to better understand the role of gratitude in the workplace.
The Sunshine for Sun Devils campaign is part of the Hugh Downs School’s Project for Wellness and Work-Life, a consortium of researchers studying the overlap of private, domestic life with work life.