Monday, April 11, 2016

What Makes You Happy?

I tried a little experiment last week by asking people what made them happy, with a goal of getting a short video clip from a new person each day. I actually averaged more than one a day (I got 9 in 5 days) but there was one day when I didn't get any.

Why did I do this?

1) I love seeing the natural smiles and body language from people when they're talking about something that makes them happy. I think it's a contagious feeling, so I feel happier when I watch this.
2) Part of "social connection" with people is talking to them about something that matters to them. What better way to find out what matters than to hear about what makes them happy?
3) I thought this would be a good way to practice getting out of my comfort zone and talking to new people since I'll be doing that a lot when I go to Minnesota. (More about this below)
4) I wanted to get diverse perspectives. I love that I was able to get a range of ages who participated.
5) I felt a little closer to everyone who participated... not just because I found out what made them happy, but because they were willing to be vulnerable enough and trust me to let me film them.
6) I'm very interested in how we form bonds. Do we need to be face-to-face or can we bond to someone by seeing them on a video? I have a particular interest in this for my work since I write and speak a lot about "virtual teaming." Though I think face-to-face is the best and a video won't allow for 2-way conversation, I feel like you can feel a bond when you see someone talking about something they're truly passionate about, especially if you're passionate about that thing, too.

Is it a good way to get to know someone new?

Every person who agreed to do the video was someone I knew personally. I taught a class last week in Philadelphia, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how this would work when I was in a new place.  The only person who did it in Philadelphia was my Aunt (and it was really cool that I got to visit her since I hadn't seen her in 27 years!)

I asked the people in the class if they'd be willing to do a clip, but didn't get any takers. I asked the man next to me on the plane if he might do it, and though we ended up talking for 4 hours about life and happiness, in the end, he didn't want to do it because he said he was not in a happy place in his life right now. He took my card and said that he would connect and send me a video clip when he had overcome the challenges in his life.

It will be interesting to try this maybe on the road trip or when I meet people in Minnesota, but it might be kind of intrusive for people who I don't know at all. I guess you have to build up a trust level with someone before you ask them to be on video...  On the other hand, it certainly worked at opening up a conversation with the man on the plane, and I feel like we did have a great conversation during that flight, even if we never see each other again.

How did people feel about doing the video?

A lot of people weren't comfortable being video'ed because they are self-conscious about how they will look or how they'll sound. I think some also may have worried that they needed to figure out the biggest thing that makes them happy or say something profound. And, of course, they may have been worried about what I'd do with the video. Many people don't mind talking about what makes them happy, but don't like being on Facebook or social media.

So...  even though I think these people are so beautiful and I'd love to publicly thank them and acknowledge my admiration for each of them, I'll resist the urge to mention any names to protect their privacy.  I'm very grateful to them for being my guinea pigs in this first video.

Will I keep doing this?

Yeah, I kind of would like to do a video every week. It may not always be the "What Makes You Happy?" question, but that is a good question for now. I also hope I'll get participation from remote people who could send me a video.  A couple of people told me about "vine" so I'm going to have to experiment with that.

Want to participate?

Send me a short video clip (I've been trying to keep them to 10 seconds) of what makes YOU happy!

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