By sponsoring a national “Happiest Photo Contest” this month, America’s Happyologist, Jackie Ruka, owner of the South Coast-based personal growth and inspirational organization Get Happy Zone Inc., says, “It’s time to get happy America!”

Her Montecito-based company’s new campaign “Time for Happy” is kicking off a national photo contest to spread happiness and improve quality of life. “The contest enters you in your happy zone,” Ruka says. “Voters share and choose the most popular photo to win a ‘Choose Happiness’ wristwatch, and the winner receives a second watch to pass on to a potential happy camper in need of happiness.”

The 2013 World Happiness Report was released early this year prior to the United Nations Assembly, where the report plays a role in setting new political plans for countries around the World,” Ruka said. “Not only does the report assess the last three years of Gallup polls measuring well-being, but it also takes a look at two types of happiness; the emotion of happiness experienced by individuals as well as individuals overall life satisfaction.” The United States ranked 17th with Denmark No. 1.

A University of Vermont study of geotagged tweets have determined that Santa Barbara is one of the happiest places to be in the United States. See

In response to a statistic stating that one in three Americans is diagnosed with depression every day, Ruka says, “America has been in a happiness slump.” More than 70 percent are unhappy in their jobs, and diseases such as cancer and heart disease are on the rise. “It’s time we wake up and spread a new contagion with a dose of happiness,” she says.

Scientific research tells us that happiness increases when you offer kindness to another. “So, get your cameras ready to post your smiling face in your happy place and make us smile,” she said. “Photos will be posted on Facebook with contestant’s ability to post, share and vote.”

The contest starts Sept. 16 and ends Oct. 14 with the winner announced by noon Oct. 14. Post photos at

Ruka, a trained psychotherapist and former businesswoman for Fortune 100 companies, took off her golden handcuffs and hung up her company computer to save her own life and improve her well-being.

This lifestyle led her to write her upcoming book on “how to live the life you are meant to live, with inspiration, passion and vengeance.” Her calling has led her to becoming an ambassador for the Happiness Initiative Organization to teach communities a new economic paradigm through Gross National Happiness education. In addition, her workshops offer motivation, intrigue and a new way of thinking about you and your business.

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