What is HappyIn21?

#HappyIn21, what is this all about? I get this question a lot. Happy In 21 is a student run project to promote living a happy life. The first class that implemented the HappyIn21 campaign worked hard to create engagement, promote happiness and deliver quality content to you. Today, students are evolving the project for YOU to help spread happiness.

This project started at the beginning of the 2014 Spring semester. Prior to the semester starting, I watched Shawn Achor’s video the Happiness Advantage. In the video he explained research about happiness, he talked about being successful, he explained how to be happy and finally what caught my attention was his idea that happiness creates productivity. Sold. So as any college instructor would do, I incorporated the Happiness Advantage into the syllabus.

Shawn Achor explained to obtain happiness one must make a habit of happiness. Shawn reflected on research explaining that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Therefore, to create a habit of happiness it takes 21 days to change your thoughts. Shawn found that if a person does the following for 21 days they would rewire their mindset:

1.) Journal everyday

2.) thank someone once a day

 3.) write 3 positive things about yourself

4.) exercise

5.) meditate

I only required the students to do steps 2 and 3 of the 5 steps (I figured there would be no way to really track if the students meditated daily) for 21 days. The only requirement was students were asked to write down the positive things about themselves and who they thanked to show me. The students were so into the idea, and since it they were in a social media class, the majority of them opted to post on social media. In fact, they even came up with a hashtag for when they tweeted: #HappyIn21. And so HappyIn21 begins…

Now, just a reminder this is a little assignment that the students had to do for their social media marketing campaign class, that is the last class for a minor in social media marketing. Normally in this class, it revolved around a creating and implementing a semester long social media campaign with a local company. For instance, one semester the students created and implemented a YouTube cooking show with a reputable chef in the area, another semester we did a Foursquare scavenger hunt, you get the idea. This semester was the largest class I had, so the students were broken up into groups based on previous semester projects. Each group was to create a social media campaign, implement the campaign and finally analyze their success of the campaign based on theory presented in class.

Let me tell you. They hated it. I was lucky enough to have had all of the students at least once, some 2 or more times, prior to this class. I knew all of their strengths and weaknesses, and really knew their personalities. They were all dragging their feet, no enthusiasm in their work. I could tell they just weren’t into it. But it was the assignment. The students had to create some type of social media campaign and implement and measure it.

Well one day we were talking in class and Happy In 21 came up. I mentioned how it was a little sneaky, but I really just wanted everyone to be super productive in class based on the happiness research. One of the students, looked at me and asked, “Why can’t we do the HappyIn21 as our semester long project?” Everyone else starting chiming in, convincing me as to why it was a good idea. Needless to say, they won. Who can say no to creating a social media campaign to spread happiness?

And that’s the story of HappyIn21. The students were so enthusiastic about the project, they would give each other deadlines. Do work that was not required of them. Create content when it wasn’t their turn for content creation on social media (the students were responsible for updating the social media sites).

I even, I kid you not, had someone write an extra paper to supplement the eBook, which I did not even know about until they handed it in. This book is the research of the “industry” or really topic that the students picked; happiness. It was important for them to understand what they were spreading. As I was grading all of their papers, I realized that it would be great free content to compile all of their information and give back to the community.

Now today, we are evolving the original HappyIn21 strategy in another institution with another group of students. These students are as excited, if not more to spread happiness. This time, the students are not just spreading happiness around campus, but across the globe. The students this semester have been making this project their own. They are extra motivated, extra excited and really wanting to give back to the community. In fact, this eBook that began in my first class, is now being executed in my second class. Who knew how much motivating students to be happy would motivate students to go above and beyond in their classes?

So, here’s to spreading happiness, Enjoy!


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