21 Day Happiness Challenge

21 Day Happiness Challenge

Just under a year ago Michelle Matthews discovered a TED Talk which she would later bring to one of our very first #LabBlab sessions. The TED Talk was presented by Shawn Achor and was called ‘The happy secret to better work‘. It inspired Michelle to devise her own 21 day happiness challenge, which she recently brought into the iLab in order to test it out on a larger audience.

The iLab’s eleventh challenge was launched by Michelle yesterday: How might we encourage happiness and positivity in the workforce. Michelle has worked hard to develop her initial work into measurable prototype and she’s got the whole team onboard. Today eight of us have stared our own 21 day happiness challenge with a 1-2-1 buddy session in which we’ve tested out coaching techniques on each other to explore questions like:

  • What motivates you?
  • What are the current barriers you face?
  • What do you hope to achieve from being part of the challenge?

As we move through the challenge we’ll link with our buddy for two more 1-2-1 sessions, but everyday we’ll be working on our own to reframe the way we look at the world. Everyday we’ll be taking a little time out to:

  • Record 3 things that we are grateful for
  • Carry out a random act of kindness
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Journal one positive experience

We’ll be testing out different ways of recording our activity and will be reflecting on our collective experiences when the 21 days are over. The hope is that we can create something which works for people – something that we can use to help other people think about their world a little differently.

Back in June 2015 Michelle wrote her own reflections on what she was about to embark upon:

“June 1, or day one of my happiness challenge, I would like to say the day started like any other Monday morning in the Matthews-Walker household (soon to be just Matthews – 31 weeks to go to the Wedding to end all Weddings, and no I haven’t got my dress, and yes I promise I will get it sorted!) – circus-like chaos, but with my other half having had five days off, all housework had been done, including the mountain of ironing, we were all ready for the arrival of the builders to re-fit our damaged bathroom. Back in October last year, water started leaking through the tiles and dripped through the lights in the lounge – who knew that water and electricity didn’t mix!

So because of this unfortunate event, we were becoming refugees (only one bathroom in our house) and would be moving in to my mum’s house. My mum, who is my rock, is currently suffering with a lot of pain in her back and knees, and to top it off was very recently diagnosed with cancer. Her June 1 or day one is the start of a three week Radiotherapy course so the thought of us moving in for at least a week was not on her ‘must have list’ when coping with cancer.

Therefore was it the right time for me to start a three week happiness challenge? Yes, yes it is, why? I hear you cry – is this not enough to be dealing with? The happiness challenge for me is not about me suddenly becoming happy because I’m un-happy, but for me to raise my levels of positivity – for example the news is full of negativity, disasters, murder, corruption etc. and your brain will start to think that’s the accurate ratio of negative to positive in the world and it’s not, bad news sells stories. If I can reflect on each day with a positive attitude, recalling things I’m grateful for and carryout random acts of kindness this will surely increase my happiness levels?

What’s going on around me is just life-stuff, we all have to deal with the day to day goings on and it seems at the moment I’ve got more than ‘the usual’. However, I’m in ‘such a good place’ at the moment, but what does that really mean?

I have a loving and caring family, I have many friends who I can rely on, love and trust and whether it’s a coffee and a chin wag, a shoulder to cry on, a spot of baby or dog sitting we are always there for each other. My children are doing well at school, they both have many friends and enjoy doing boy stuff – football, biking, walking, x-box playing – so that’s a blessing. My other half finally is doing the job or started the career he has always longed for, the process was a long, emotionally draining and on many occasions we didn’t know if either of us would cope if he didn’t succeed – one of our friends referred it to our very own X-factor rollercoaster journey, but with no Simon Cowell! I am working for a relatively new company, with a great working ethos and my colleagues are so talented, supportive, fun, innovative and creative! I don’t get a sinking feeling when I have to go to work, I get excited by the next new challenge and I love telling people I meet what I do.

So my 3 week happiness challenge has started with a bang! And I already know that by the end of 3 weeks, my mum will be better and recovering from her illness, I will have a lovely new, functioning bathroom, my children will both have decorated bedrooms and I will have found ‘new’ happiness – roll on June!”

Happiness Card Deck


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