Giving Back: Choose The Gunnar Project

At AssetHR, one of our family values focuses on different ways that we can give back to the community. We have many groups and organizations that are close to our heart, and one of those groups was founded by part of our client family. The Gunnar Project is an organization founded by Marc Miller, Chief Happ(i)ness Officer at Imagine IT.

Several years ago, Marc and his wife were devastated by the loss of their 19-year-old son, Gunnar, in a surprising skateboarding accident. Gunnar, full of life and a true source of happiness for everyone who knew him, jumped on his skateboard while helping a friend move. He grabbed onto a car, fell and landed on his head and neck, and was killed instantly.

The loss of Gunnar was a tragic loss for our community. He was about to start college following 14 months of sobriety after a struggle with drugs and alcohol through high school.  He had a bright future ahead of him.

After Gunnar passed away, the outreach from the people who knew him was amazing. Marc and his wife received texts, letters, cards and voicemails from people across the country, and a consistent message surfaced: Gunnar had a unique ability to create happiness in the people around him.

It was at that point that Marc knew he had discovered the mission for the Gunnar Project: to help young people understand how to find – and thrive – on the happiness they create for themselves, every day.

 “Instead of people looking back on their lives and saying, I wish I would’ve done this or that I wanted to get out in front of young people and challenge them to rethink their happiness.  We all need to understand how to create happiness each and every day. It is vital the young adults are fully responsible for their own happiness from the moment they get up in the morning, until the moment they go to bed.”

After spending some time doing research on the topic of innate happiness, Marc learned that there’s a direct correlation between the rise of drug use and depression and the material version of society that we’re cycling through. But what is surprising is that there is a very simple way to combat this.

Many studies show that people who pursue their passions, who have strong relationships, who are healthy, and who have a deeper connection to something bigger than themselves, are less likely to be driven towards depression and drugs, because they find innate happiness outside of the material world. Making this type of mindset more common among young people is truly just a matter of bringing it to the forefront of our conversations, and giving them the tools to be more intentional about how they shape their lives.

A lot of Marc’s message is centered around the idea of finding happiness in the everyday things that we often overlook, and how these are the things that can help us intentionally increase our happiness throughout the day. How we’re presented, on a near constant basis, with the things we need to buy in order to be happy, and how that leads to a life of chasing a bigger house, a fancier car, and a bigger paycheck – instead of being content with what we have.

Marc brings this focus of finding happiness to local schools, youth groups, and even some companies to put a stronger focus on being in the moment. To find the opportunities in life that support your passions. To intentionally show kindness for others. To step back, see the positive, and fill your contentment bucket.

The great thing about how Marc brings this much-needed conversation to the youth of our community is that there’s no cost to it. There’s not a financial investment that people need to make to learn these skills or learn from Marc – it’s simply an open mind, and a willingness to stop, slow down, and look at life from a new perspective. To choose joy first.

We are proud of all the work that Marc is doing to help shape a brighter future for the youth of our community. Marc’s message and the conversations he has are life changing.

So how can you help?

  • Invite Marc to speak to your organization. This is the primary way to get this important message to more people in the community.
  • Support Marc’s efforts with a donation. Marc brings a free copy of his book, The Happ(i)ness War, for every person who attends his presentations. You can help get more of these life-changing books into the hands of kids by donating to the cause here:
  • Finally, request a copy of his book for yourself. Marc is happy to send out his book on happ(i)ness to anyone who requests it (although, we would be very appreciative if you’d donate to cover the cost of the book and shipping!).