Nick Heap

Happiness exercise

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This exercise is a simple application of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry.


Help participants to realise connections between them.



Ask a friend or colleague or a group to tell you stories about times when they were happy. Just listen and encourage everyone else to listen. Join in yourself. Then do the same about times when they and you made someone else happy. You will be astonished how interesting, inspiring and enjoyable this will be!

We did this with some friends and found that the hard part was choosing which happy experience to share. That is a nice problem. We also learned that making other people happy was a very good way to be happy yourself, which is encouraging.

This will work just as well with a big group. Just get people into small groups of four or five and proceed as above. I ran an event for fifty people from many different cultures and it was a delight.

I used the same exercise at the start of a meeting to build the relationship between people from two organisations. It worked astonishingly well. The people realised how much they had in common and this helped they build strong mutual cooperation and trust.

Tips for running this activity online

  • A simple activity to run online - so long as you have everyone on webcam and present in your video conferencing tool, this one is run in very much the same way as a live workshop!
  • When facilitating group discussion, we recommend participants use non-verbal means to indicate they’d like to speak. You can use tools like Zoom’s nonverbal feedback options, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up.The facilitator can then invite that person to speak. 


Source: Nick Heap

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