V.J. Smith, Founder and President of the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS, releases the group’s custom edition of The Way to Happiness.
V.J. Smith is reclaiming Minneapolis neighborhoods and is using The Way to Happiness as part of his program to do it.

“We are working with men, we are working with women, we work with everyone, but MAD DADS was designed to get men off their butts,” says V.J. Smith, Founder and President of the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS and national MAD DADS President.

MAD DADS—Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder—was founded in 1989 in Omaha, Nebraska, by men and fathers who were fed up with gang violence and illegal drugs in their community. V.J. Smith established the Minneapolis chapter in 1998.

We caught up with V.J. to find out how he integrates The Way to Happiness into his MAD DADS programs.

What does it mean to be a MAD DAD?

“We are those men who want to stand in the gap for those who are unable to be fathers and role models and mentors in our community. We know that there’s so many of us that have been incarcerated, that are addicted to drugs, that are just not involved with their families, their children and their community in a positive way.

“So we want to be that conduit of men making a difference in the jails, in the schools, on the streets, in the churches and all around the community to help transform our families and our fathers.”

What matters most to you?

“We have people in our community that don’t understand what happiness is really about. Happiness is not about how much money you have. It’s not about what kind of car you drive. Happiness is not about what kind of house you live in or any of that. Happiness is really about something deep inside you, and once you understand how that operates, then you can be a happier person.

“Our goal is to always reach the least, the last and the lost and those people that get overlooked and taken advantage of sometimes. So our goal is to help those individuals to be better, to understand what it is like to have a fulfilled life. Understand that, yes, there are challenges but you have the power, you have the power within you to conquer those challenges and come out a winner. We just have to show you how to do it—give you the tools to do it, give you the support to be strong.”

How does The Way to Happiness fit in with your program?

“We started working with The Way to Happiness about seven years ago.

“We had our logo put on the front of the booklet, with our information in there also, and we started to sign those off and we would just hand the booklets to people. We would sign our name and say, ‘You can be happy. Why don’t you read that?’

“Happiness is really about something deep inside you, and once you understand how that operates, then you can be a happier person.”

“And then we heard people say, ‘You know, I read that book and it changes the way I think about life. It changes how I feel about things.’

“So we have those books when people come in our office, and we will stack them right at reception. Somebody’s looking a little down, we say, ‘Look, read that book. It can help you.’”

What are the rewards of distributing The Way to Happiness to others?

“One of the things I love to do is to sign off on that book and give it to somebody. Because I feel like I’m signing off on their joy. I’m signing off on their happiness. I’m signing off on their future.

“Just a little bit of information will take a person a long way and help them to have a better quality of life. For me, that means a lot.”


The Way to Happiness Foundation International works to reverse the moral decay of society by restoring trust and honesty through widespread distribution of the 21 precepts. Donations support production and distribution of The Way to Happiness booklet and curriculum material.