Seize your moments is an international social art project by Janne Willems (1982), who collects beautiful moments from all over the world in order to discover what happiness looks like across the globe. The Netherlands-based trailblazer walks up to strangers and asks everyday people to draw a beautiful moment from last week. They cheer up after such a question and start talking to each other. Since 2010 this world traveler collected nearly 8000 beautiful moments in 28 countries. In order to do this over 500 people helped her.
 She is an experienced speaker who loves to do interactive sessions. Next to two TEDx talks  she spoke for instance at the RMIT University of Ho Chi Minh City, conferences in Berlin, gave inspirational sessions in Christchurch and New Zealand. She is frequently featured in the media worldwide, over 70 times such as in Vietnam  & on ABC’s life matters. Furthermore she studied cognitive artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and graduated with distinction in philosophy. Her Dutch book Seize Your Moments came out in November 2015. It’s an inspiring tale on beautiful moments from all people and Janne’s story. It offers many insights in happiness and how to become happier yourself. Currently she is working on the English translation of this book and gives talks around the globe.

Why I started Seize Your Moments

In 2002, I left a small village in the southern province of Limburg, The Netherlands, to study in the city of Utrecht. This fresh start, away from a history of being bullied and ill quite a lot as a child, was a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed the classes, the study-related humor with my co-students and the eagle that rode my bike back home. I wanted to remember all of it, so I decided to write it all down in my nice-things-journal. Tedious things don’t make it into my book – I don’t want to remember those.

Slowly but surely, the pile of journals grows. Sometimes at rocket speed, sometimes hardly noticeably, but growing nonetheless. I continued to write and sometimes I made little drawings too. Also when my mother became severely ill, I continued to write in my nice-things-journals. I completed three journals in the last five weeks of her life, when she came home to die and we all lived together at home as a family. The only thing we had to do was take care of my mother and enjoy each other’s company as much as we possibly could. July 12th 2007, the day she was cremated, was the best day ever. I wrote down more beautiful moments than ever, just in that one day. Everyone was so loving.

The pile continues to grow. I realize how much collecting my own beautiful moments means to me. It is my way of making a world –where there are a lot of minuses – feel like a big plus. After all, these small beautiful moments happen every day, Even if you are having a dark day. Because I focus on these moments – I’m very conscious of them. And because I’m conscious, I have a lot more of them. And then I just think: Hey, there’s another one I have to write down in my journal. When I write them down or read them again, I relive the joy of that moment. Beautiful moments are like bouncing balls. Let go of them and they continue bouncing. I want to share this insight with people and I am curious about other people’s beautiful moments. What are their experiences? What catches their eyes? How does that make life easier on difficult days? What helps them to see the good side of this world?

In the summer of 2010, I discovered liquid watercolor paint, scissors and paper. Suddenly, I could create images and instead of writing. I started to draw my beautiful moments. The idea of sharing the power of beautiful moments takes hold of me and won’t let go. I decide to start collecting beautiful moments. I set up a website and the day before I want to go live with it, I talk to my sister in law. She says I have chosen the wrong name (pretty cloudy) for my website. “You need to have a name that suits you and the project much better.”We make a list of possible names. When I say “Pluk Je Momenten”, which is Dutch for Seize your Moments, the room goes quiet. It is obvious, this is the right name . The name hits me left on my chest. “Seize your moments” is the first line of the poem I wrote for my mother and which I read at her cremation. The day after that, the website went live.