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An experiment in happiness

What makes you happy on a daily basis? It’s an interesting question and one that I was faced with when I visited London’s first pop-up Museum of Happiness – maybe even the world’s first Museum of Happiness, who knows? The event took place from the 16th – 18th January in Spitalfields Market and came at a time when Londoners just needed a fun, free event to lift their spirits… January.

The aim of the day was to inspire happiness in people and get participants thinking about things that they can do in their daily life to keep their mind happy and healthy. Deciding what makes you happy each day, as I learned, is actually rather difficult. Most of the things that make us truly happy, such as travelling, singing, dancing, trying new things, meeting new people, stroking fluffy bunnies and so on, we don’t have an opportunity to do every single day. And isn’t that a shame?

The Museum of Happiness set up a small collection of tents on the outskirts of Spitalfields Market, armed them with friendly and excited volunteers and went to work making a percentage of the London population really happy for the weekend (all for free, I might add) and it was very clear that they succeeded in their mission.

Workshops in laughter yoga, singing, mindfulness, comedy, origami and more were on offer, as well as a silent disco, face painting, colouring parties and various opportunities to discuss and write down your bucket list goals and what makes you happy on a day-to-day basis. Oh and of course, my favourite part of the entire museum… an adult-sized ball pit, which I’ve decided will be a permanent feature in my future dream house.

Believe it or not, one of the most fun experiences of the event was standing in the queue waiting to get in, where Focal Local were providing their unique style of entertainment. This group organise fun activities around London, with the aim of bringing people together and just generally spreading the love, with things like free hugs, drawing and blowing bubbles, all of which were on offer while we awaited our admittance to the museum.

Another inspiring contributor was Tick The Bucket, a bucket list themed social network who set up a giant chalkboard, encouraging passers-by to add their goals to the bucket list for the chance to win everything from a skydive to Portuguese lessons.

The event was clearly a huge success, with attendees raving about how much fun they had at the organised workshops, however one of the most beautiful moments for me was an entirely unorganised occurrence – an elderly gentleman boogying on down in the silent disco by himself, clearly without a care in the world. This alone was absolutely worth the visit and proved the effectiveness of the whole project.

Every volunteer at the event was so helpful and friendly (but I guess if you’re volunteering at a Museum of Happiness you’re not likely to be too grumpy!) and at every turn I was confronted with questions like ‘what makes you happy?’ and ‘what made you come along today?’ and ‘would you like a free hug?’ The day turned a rather dreary January into a positive experience, and something that I’ll certainly think about the next time I’m feeling blue.

The Museum of Happiness are apparently looking to eventually set up a permanent space in London, so keep an eye out for updates!

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