The reaction surprised him. Inspired by all the messages of happiness collected by the Happy Post team, the mayor of Cali signed a "happiness pact" officially committing the city to measure and monitor the happiness of its citizens. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos mentioned Mario's work in a speech and invited him for a visit. President Santos' post-it note read: "a more peaceful and just Colombia."
"It was clearly a special moment because we were moving from awareness to concrete actions that will spark social change," said Mario, who is now cancer-free.
Like any good innovator, Mario is building on his early success to develop other initiatives. He recently created the Make it Happy Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to spark a social movement to spread happiness. The foundation is creating a "happiness lab" to promote the study of happiness and support a network of social innovators. A consulting operation designed to help governments and companies learn more about what makes people happy is also in the works.
Mario continues to dream big. He wants to use happiness as a resource to promote the peace process in Colombia and beyond.
"If our project works in Colombia we can easily replicate that in countries such as Uganda, Palestine or Afghanistan," he says.
In a way, Mario is already Colombia's leading happiness export. He started out in Pasto as a raw material before moving on and adding value in Bogota, Boston and New York. As he moves up the value chain, the happiness he creates is inspiring people in Colombia and throughout the world.