Winter Happiness Festival comes to the Museum Happiness

ball pool vicky johnson

The Museum of Happiness is bringing Londoners the perfect antidote to the January Blues.  The Winter Happiness Festival launches on Blue Monday itself, officially the most depressing day of the year, and 24,000 giant white balls will play a starring role.
The Museum of Happiness launched in Spitalfields Market in January 2016, where more than 7000 people visited their 3-day Pop Up which included a silent disco, dance classes, mindfulness sessions and a massive Ball Pit. The giant Ball Pit, named JumpIn! by strategic brand strategy agency Pearl Fisher, proved such a success that the Happiness Team has reprised the JumpIn! for the Festival.
Holding 24,000 pure white balls, and standing almost a metre high, the Happiness Team are offering the Ball Pit for 4 weeks during the Winter Happiness Festival, which is taking place at the Museum of Happiness on Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane in East London. Visitors can book a 15-minute slot with the option of booking the entire pit for their group of friends, plus there’s even the option for businesses to book the pit for a team happiness meeting!
Additional events include free talks from influential speakers from the happiness world, yoga, mindfulness, plus a gratitude tree where visitors can share what they are most grateful for. You can even have a go at some mindful colouring in, and dispose of unhelpful thoughts and attitudes in the ‘Let It Go’ bin!
Although the aim of the Winter Happiness Festival is to encourage fun and play, there’s a bigger issue at its heart.   While a new year brings hope, it can also bring anxiety, one of the biggest causes of mental distress and depression.  Owner of The Canvas Café, Ruth Rogers, explains the importance of events like this, and their greater impact:

“Research has proved that adults need play and relaxation to boost their mental and emotional health.  London can be a disconnected place, which is why The Canvas Café and the Museum of Happiness are dedicated to providing a space for our community to feel welcome, to connect, and to have fun.”

The Museum of Happiness co-founder, Shamash Alidina, adds:

“Winter can be a particularly depressing time in London. We’re not here to force you to feel happy...but we want to create a space for you to meet with other friendly Londoners, reflect on what is going well in your life, savour the moment and have a bit of fun along the way. And who knows, you may just find yourself feeling a bit more upbeat too!”

The Winter Festival opens on 21st January and runs for 4 weeks. Sign up your email on our home page to receive a Ball Pit ticket link sent to you at 6am on Monday 16th January. Book your slot and say balls to Blue Monday. 

The complete Winter Festival programme will also be sent by signing up to the Museum of Happiness mailing list on 16th January.
About the Canvas Café-Museum of Happiness partnership 

The Museum of Happiness at the Canvas Café is the first of its kind. Since then, happiness hubs, all aligned with global charity Action for Happiness, have popped up all over the UK and beyond, and the concept is set to expand globally in 2017.

Brand New Happiness Conference Launches in London!

The co-founders of the Museum of Happiness are organising a world-class conference in Central London, to make London a hub to help create a happier world.

The conference is aptly called, ‘Happier World Conference’.

The essence of the conference: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

It will be on Saturday 5th November 2016, in Temple, London.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November!

We’re excited to be welcoming the wonderful Nipun Mehta from California, founder of Service Space, as a speaker and workshop leader at the event too.

Nipun has been awarded by the Dalai Lama for his work. He serves 500,000 on his platform, Service Space.

Book tickets for Happier World Conference here.


Hopefully see some of you there!

How we celebrated Happiness Day from Dawn to Dusk...and beyond!

Canvas Cafe

Canvas Cafe

On Sunday 20th March, the Museum of Happiness celebrated United Nations International Day of Happiness...for the first time!

For our venue, we were so pleased to have use of the Canvas Cafe - London’s first ‘Happy Cafe’. We are good friends with the owner, Ruth, and she was tremendously supportive of our venture.

After lots of emails and phone calls, we managed to get a list of kind and generous teachers willing to gift their time to make the world happier. I’d like to give a special thanks to Felipe Viveros for helping us.

Here’s the timetable we had for the day:

We started with some beautiful, calming yoga with Rosa. She has a lovely, relaxing voice and with a small group of us at 6am, we began the day. You can’t beat yoga at sunrise!

Next up was me teaching Kindfulness Meditation. That’s a combination of mindfulness meditation, but with an emphasis on being kind and friendly towards your body and mind. After a guided kindful body scan and short discussion, the group was feeling even more relaxed and happy.

And I’m glad I mentioned happy! As next up was Eva the laughter yoga teacher. Eva very skillfully transitioned us from feeling calm and happy, to lots of laughter and fun.

The group finished with a lovely laughter hug which was hilarious and relaxing at the same time!

Then it was time for a talk. Our very good friend Felipe Viveros gave a fascinating presentation on ‘Gross National Happiness’  (GNH) - a concept first coined and followed in Bhutan, but now beginning to spread worldwide.

Felipe emphasised the importance of peace and meditation as an important pillar for a happier life. And GNH has a much wider definition of happiness too.

Under the title of happiness in GNH comes a range of domains. Some happiness domains are traditional areas of social concern such as living standards, health, and education. Some are less traditional, such as time use, psychological well being, culture, community vitality, and environmental diversity. A fascinating, all-encompassing definition of happiness.

Chris Paradox was next up. He shared fascinating stories from his own life. Everything from how he sings in public on the bus and tube, to how losing his leg was seen as a positive life experience for him. Chris finished with a short written exercise so participants could think more deeply about their purpose in life.

The next playshop was brought to us by our friends at Antidote, who run playshops every week in London! They recommended Cleo Lane to run a singing class - and she was absolutely brilliant. The group was in an upbeat, positive mood to start with - but after that, they were positively buzzing!

At noon, another one of our longer term supporters, Andy of Focallocal, gave a talk about his work. He does everything from organising international pillow fights to getting 50,000 people all over the world blowing bubbles, and encourages monthly free hugs in Trafalgar square. All whilst living humbly in his little van in London.

Then came lunchtime. And this was by far the best lunch experience we’d ever had! Karma Kitchen, a ServiceSpace project, took over the basement and within 30 minutes, transformed it into a beautiful, candle-lit restaurant. They then welcomed the guests with a hug, seated them and shared them the philosophy of Karma Kitchen - to encourage people to ‘pay-it-forward’. Someone else had anonymously paid for their meal, and they were invited to pay for someone else, anonymously too. The participants loved it, and did give generously - go London!

During the experience, whilst having their meal, they were asked to also share on a piece of paper: "How can we create a happier world together?" Following that, they were also ‘tagged’ - given a gift, and invited to pass on a gift to someone else, in their own time. The volunteers were the stars of the experience - they gave much more than just their time, and we’re so grateful for that.

After the two Karma Kitchen sittings, the atmosphere was filled not just with happiness, but lots of love too! Big thanks to Trishna and Ani who also run a meditation and reflection group called Awakin Circles in London (which I highly, highly recommend), and of course thank you to the kitchen team at Canvas Cafe, and all the beautiful volunteers involved.

The Karma Kitchen Volunteer Stars!

The Karma Kitchen Volunteer Stars!

A young man making his own gratitude tree

A young man making his own gratitude tree

Next up, Vicky Johnson, our lovely co-founder, gave her first ever playshop on The Power of Gratitude. I’ve always felt that she’s naturally such a grateful person, and knew she’d be the perfect person to give such a talk and playshop. She shared from her heart how gratitude had changed her life, after listening to a talk by Spencer Heijnen at our first ever Museum of Happiness event on 15th February 2015.

Spencer is a specialist in taking happiness into the workplace. Vicky was very creative in her playshop, and got everyone creating their own Gratitude Tree, and we all finished up playing Gratitude Bingo!

Vicky looking very grateful at the Happiness Flash Mob

Vicky looking very grateful at the Happiness Flash Mob

As the afternoon went on, the place got busier and busier. Tiu de Haan was up next, and got us thinking about seeing our life challenges in different ways. She had us doing everything from behaving like a robot, to a fascinating discussion about Pronoia, the opposite of Paranoia.

Pronoia is having the sense that there is a conspiracy that exists to help the person. It is also used to describe a philosophy that the world is setup to secretly benefit people! What a lovely thought. Thank you Tiu.

Then at 5pm, two things happened. In the basement, we had our final playshop laughter yoga with Melanie Bloch - a holistic laughter yoga teacher in London. She had had the idea of laughter yoga on international day of happiness well before we had - and she kindly integrated into our day. Her session was absolutely brilliant.

And we also had a Happiness Flash Mob in the streets of London!

We actually called it a ‘Gift Mob’ and gave out daisies, lavender, little pieces of paper with smiles on them, free hugs, free high fives and free music for all to dance to. We were joined by Alex Nunn of Action for Happiness, folks from Morning Gloryville, Felipe from Gross National Happiness and nicely held together by Andy of Focallocal.

There was about 50 of us, joined additionally with random passers by, dancing to the beats and sharing our smiles and talking to people about the fact that it was officially UN International Day of Happiness.

Incredibly, the day was still not over! We headed back to the Canvas Cafe for a group panel discussion to explore what happiness means to us. The panel included Kieran, Vicky and Shamash of the Museum of Happiness, Felipe Viveros from Gross National Happiness Europe, Karen Liebenguth from Green Space Coaching and Charlie Claydon founder of My Mental Health. It was great to have members of the audience from Wake Up London too, who follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh - he’s a great meditation teacher!

We were really pleased with the way the day went, and the way we spread our smiles far and wide, not just in the cafe, but out on the streets too.

Happiness is deeply lacking in our world at the moment - anxiety and depression is  the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Here at the Museum of Happiness, we’re keen not to make our offering just another commodity. The Canvas Cafe gifted us the venue area, the teachers gifted us their time and the organisers gifted their time to put the whole event together. Karma Kitchen even gifted the lunch. Generosity was the flame that warmed people's hearts.

We believe in the philosophy of ‘pay-it-forward’.

This encourages us to not just think about how much money we're making or influence we’re having, but how much happiness we’re all spreading together!

Gifting such a day also encourages attendees to move from transaction to trust - to be generous and think of others. And generosity makes both the giver and receiver to feel happier!

My sincere gratitude to my co-founders Vicky and Kieran, to Ruth for her trust in us as we used her space, gratitude to all the teachers and volunteers without whom we’d have no event, and to you as a reader to get this far in the blog post! 

You're all very welcome to join us to help spread a bit more happiness in our beautiful, precious world.

Museum of Happiness and the british museum

Exciting news!

Just wanted to share a happy photo and news with you today.

We have our pop up launch at the British Museum this morning and it was an instant sell out! We've got the public meditating, practising compassion, singing, dancing, generously donating, laughing and being kind and playful - a fantastic launch!

Museum of Happiness joined by DL and DT

And were very pleased to have our two special guests join us: none other than HH The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu! See them in the photo?

The Dalai Lama's team heard about us when someone spotted our idea on Sky News back in January. They mentioned it to him and he's been keen to support it ever since then.

Apparently the Dalai Lama now has an iPhone and immediately texted his friend Tutu to join him...some say he even Facetimes Heads of State.

'There's too much focus on money, isn't it? More needs to be done to cultivate warm heartedness - the pillar of a happy and healthy life. Very pleased with this initiative. I'm pleased MoH are focusing on mindfulness, community and compassion - and also some funfulness...playfulness...not sure how you say it!' - and then he burst into laughter in true Dalai style.

The pop up will be touring Paris, New York, Hong Kong and then, believe it or not, with a special partnership with The NASA Education Project, the Museum of Happiness may by the first museum to open up on the moon!

Rocketeer Elon Musk who designed both Tesla and Space X also made a comment: 'If I was to open one museum, it'd be museum of happiness not on the moon, but Mars. Mars is our only hope for a happy and peaceful future - so it makes sense to open this concept over there first. Then any possible alien visit (although a long shot) would know that we value happiness and peace more than just money and wars and science. It'd be a great statement from humanity to any alien visit. I'm in!'

All this may seem quite far fetched...but then again, why not! If you have any ideas for how we'd design a Museum of Happiness on Mars, or even the Moon, please send your ideas through. We will share your pictures on social media.

Sending peace, love and happiness from planet earth!

Shamash and MoH team!

PS - if you wish to visit us at the British Museum today, reply with the subject 'I love April Fools', ideally with a drawing of your designs for Mars and we'll see what we can do. Even the Prime Minister didn't get in, so it's going to need some high quality drawings, people!

Let's Celebrate UN International Day of Happiness!

Our latest event on 20th March 2016 in London

Mindful Bollywood at our last event

Mindful Bollywood at our last event

Ticket link:

Enjoy Energising and Calming Ways to Happiness and make some nice friends along the way: Broadcasting LIVE from London to the World!


Join us to celebrate United Nations International Day of Happiness in The Canvas Cafe, London’s first Happy Cafe!


Choose any two workshops which we will have running from dawn till dusk! Take your pick from whatever you fancy…


There’s yoga, dancing, laughter yoga, meditation, generosity and connection exercises, poetry, gratitude, self-compassion, pay-it-forward exercises...the list goes on!


When you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a smile from one of our kind volunteers. Make your way downstairs a few minutes before your workshop starts to ensure you get your place.


Some workshops are calming and relaxing, cultivating a sense of contentment. Others are energetic, playful and uplifting.


Lots to choose from on a jam-packed Funday…I mean Sunday!


Don’t worry if you find it daunting, or don’t enjoy the experience - if you decide it’s not for you, you’re welcome to leave at any point. So no harm in giving it a try!


Please note there are limited tickets: We will only be releasing 30 tickets for each workshop on a first-come, first-served basis.


Please only book two tickets which includes Karma Kitchen. This helps to ensure as many people as possible get to experience the event.


Proposed Timetable

Here’s the timetable we have organised at present. Note that all workshops are subject to some change and adjustment. Check this listing for the latest updates. :)

6am - Happy Yoga with Rosa Connor

7am - Guided Kindfulness Meditation with Shamash Alidina

8am - Laughter Yoga - Eva Provedel

9am - Gross National Happiness Talk and Workshop with Felipe

10am - Happiness, Poetry and Your Purpose - Chris Paradox

11am - Singing with Cleo Lane - Organised by Antidote

12 noon - Pimp Your Life with Positive Actions with Andy of Focallocal (finishes about 12.30pm)

1pm - Karma Kitchen - Pay-it-forward vegetarian lunch experience!

2pm - Karma Kitchen - Pay-it-forward vegetarian lunch experience!

3pm - The Power of Gratitude with Vicky Johnson

4pm - Happiness and Rituals with Tiu De Haan

5pm - Laughter Yoga with Melanie Bloch (50 mins)

5pm or 5.30pm - Happiness Flashmob Open to All! A chance to gather with like-minded Londoners and spread some happiness to the general public in a fun way.

6:30pm - Panel Discussion - ‘What Does Happiness Mean to You?’ Discover what happiness means to different members of the panel, and then attendees can share their views. Organised by The Canvas Cafe.


Next steps

  1. Register for a maximum of two x 1-hour sessions that you’ll definitely attend, which includes one Karma Kitchen if you select that. Choose whichever two slots that you want. You can spread them out as much or as little as you want. Eg. back to back: 6am and 7am. Or spread them out eg. 1pm and 4pm.

  2. Register for the public International Happiness Day Gift Mob. We are not officially hosting this...just going with the flow! Gathering at 17:00 outside Canvas Cafe, the flash mob (gift mob) leaves at 17.30 from under the bridge at Wheler St, near Boxpark and just off of Brick Lane (and if its raining we'll just make a party under there). Register the ticket for that below and we’ll send more info if there's any changes. A chance to come together with other Londoners and share happiness, kindness and smiles by gifting hugs, smiles, conversation and more. Check out this list of positive kind action suggestions from our friend Andy of Focallocal so you know what to bring along.


What if I can’t make it? Can I join in online, live?

Yes!  As we are now a community of thousands of people and growing internationally, we’ve decided to stream the whole day ONLINE as a GIFT from us all to you!

So if you want to watch what’s going on on the day, just register a online ticket for the online event using eventbrite, and we’ll email you a link to be able to watch!

Join us from anywhere in the world! If that doesn’t make you smile…what will?!!!

If you book the online ticket, you’ll get an email about 24 hours before the event starts with details of how to join in…and even if you can’t watch it live, we’ll make the videos available after the event.

Technology doesn’t always work - so please be patient with us if it doesn’t work out...we’ll try our best!

If anyone wants to help us out and film the whole thing and live steam it to the world, please contact us! Our usual volunteer camera guys can't make it for the full day :)

What can I do between workshops?

The event space is downstairs and the cafe will be running as normal upstairs. So please consider purchasing a meal or drink in The Canvas Cafe and support Ruth and her team.

The Canvas Cafe is a non-profit organisation just like us, that supports events in emotional health and well being, and depends upon your support to keep sharing the love.

The Canvas Cafe is donating the space for the event and hiring extra staff to ensure things go smoothly. So please remember not to bring in any outside food or drink, and help support our cause by purchasing something from the cafe - whatever you can afford would be much appreciated.


I’m a bit shy or on my own…should I still come?

Yes, why not? You can come in for just one workshop - whichever one that sounds nice to you. Get it quick before it sells out! And then maybe have a coffee, do a bit of colouring in and be on your way! Or who know, maybe you might getting chatting to someone and make a new friend. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. So have a go…and if you’re really nervous, come and talk to Shamash/Vicky/Kieran who run Museum of Happiness or Ruth the cafe owner - they are really nice and friendly...that’s us! :)

Why can I only choose 2 x 1 hour sessions?

We have a community of thousands of people….so we want to ensure that more than just a handful of people get to experience this unique fun-packed day. You could choose 2 workshops in a row…or why not spread them out throughout the day? That way you can hang out with us, make new friends or chat to old friends and generally have a lovely day.

How do you manage to run these events for free?

This is a gift from our heart to yours. We have all donated our time and money and experience to bring this event to London. If you’re moved to do so, consider donating to us and/or making a purchase at the cafe. Thanks so much for considering to come along! If the experience lifts your spirit and helps you to share that with others, we’re honored to have played our part in that process.

What is the Museum of Happiness?

You can find out more about The Museum of Happiness here.

What's the hashtags for the event?

#InternationalDayOfHappiness and #MoHLondon or #MuseumofHappiness

Museum of Happiness holds Pre-Launch event at Goldsmiths University

World's first Museum of Happiness teaches keys to wellbeing in a fun and interactive way

Museum of Happiness at Goldsmith's University with NCS The Challenge

Museum of Happiness at Goldsmith's University with NCS The Challenge

Today we pre-launched our first pop up Museum of Happiness at Goldsmith's University in London.

The one day event was designed to teach evidence-based ways to raise wellbeing in a fun, engaging and powerful way.

Three hundred students attended the event as part of a careers and skills training event.

We had four tents exploring four keys to happiness - creativity, community, compassion and mindfulness. 

The students had a happiness passport to keep them engaged and to show they've achieved something unique on the day. 

Happiness Passport

Happiness Passport

First up, creativity. As the students are energetic, this is a great place to start. In the creativity tent, the students made stress balls using balloons and flour, and created other funky works of art. Kieran, our happy designer, helped in this tent.

In the community tent, students made pledges to connect with their community on the 'Communi-Tree'. Vicky, the main organiser of the event, ran this tent.

We believe that a strong, caring community lies at the heart of wellbeing.

There's great research to show the benefits of gratitude and relationships. This two minute activity plants wonderful seeds for wellbeing. 

Vicky, the main organiser of this event, looking happy....and we haven't even started the day yet!

Vicky, the main organiser of this event, looking happy....and we haven't even started the day yet!

someone's community pledge

Next up was the Compassion tent run by Laura. In here, students wrote letters as a comment of support, which we posted for them using our own, homemade postbox.

Compassion is like the glue that keeps relationships healthy and joyous. And our research has found compassion to be far more healing and resilient than empathy.

Sending a letter in a nice way for the students to step away from their mobile phones, which can be distracting. The act of thinking about someone who's going through a tough time and sending them warm wishes is a lovely way to warm their hearts.

The Museum of Happiness postbox. Royal Mail now has some serious competition.

The Museum of Happiness postbox. Royal Mail now has some serious competition.

Finally was the Mindfulness tent. Here the students tried some mindfulness colouring in, mindful eating and were guided in some relaxing mindfulness meditation with Shamash.

As students use phones so much, Shamash used the analogy of battery life of a phone. Just as batteries need recharging, so does one's mind. Mindfulness and meditation is a way to recharge your mind so you feel fresh and happy.

Amazingly, most students were most interested in meditation rather than just mindful eating or mindful colouring in. So that's what he did.

Shamash showing off his natural hair

Shamash showing off his natural hair

Mindfulness tent - the calm before the mindful storm of students that came flooding in.

Mindfulness tent - the calm before the mindful storm of students that came flooding in.

The students all finished by making happiness pledges. This is so they go away with concrete actions to make themselves or the world a happier place to be. Without such a pledge, the learnings from the day could be easily forgotten. The use of hand image is a great way to personalise the process and put their stamp on the event.

Happiness Pledges at the Museum of Happiness 

Happiness Pledges at the Museum of Happiness 

The feedback was overwhelming positive. The students loved the simple, playful exercises. 

Student creating her happiness pledge - good for her! 

Student creating her happiness pledge - good for her! 

We'd like to thank all the volunteer staff and wonderful students for such a beautiful event. And thank you to 'The Challenge' for sponsoring the event.

Next stop. Pop up Museum of Happiness in Spitafield's Market in January.

Sign up your email if you wanna know more info when we have it!

Three of the organisers.. From left to right: Shamash, Kieran and Laura. Main organiser, Vicky, too busy teaching a happiness class to join us in this pic!

Three of the organisers.. From left to right: Shamash, Kieran and Laura. Main organiser, Vicky, too busy teaching a happiness class to join us in this pic!

One of the many lovely students  pledges. We had over 20 pledges altogether.

One of the many lovely students  pledges. We had over 20 pledges altogether.

If you'd like to invite the Museum of Happiness pop up to your community, workplace or event, shoot us a message and a smiley face :-)

And if you want to volunteer or come along, keep in touch via email.

It's Official: Kindness Makes You Happier

Only kindness matters

Only kindness matters

As we prepare for our next event on Kindness to Self and Other (click here for info), I thought I'd do some research into the connection between kindness and happiness.

It turns out, science has found they are strongly linked!

Here's what they said over at Berkeley Centre:

Two recent studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism. 

They go on to highlight one of the studies:

In one of the studies, published last year in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers in Great Britain had participants take a survey measuring life satisfaction, then they assigned all 86 participants to one of three groups. One group was instructed to perform a daily act of kindness for the next 10 days. Another group was also told to do something new each day over those 10 days. A third group received no instructions.
After the 10 days were up, the researchers asked the participants to complete the life satisfaction survey again.

The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant—and roughly equal—boost in happiness; the third group didn’t get any happier. The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good—even when performed over as little as 10 days—and there may be particular benefits to varying our acts of kindness, as novelty seems linked to happiness as well.

An interview by Gretchen Rubin with  Sonja Lyubomirsky found more compelling reasons to be kind:

Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier.  My favorite is doing acts of kindness.  The generous acts don’t have to be random and they don’t have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.).  We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. 

That's great news, isn't it?

In our next event, we shall also be exploring kindness to yourself. We think that's just as important. In fact, leading researcher Kristin Neff says self-compassion (which includes self-kindness) is also more powerful than high self-esteem:

There’s the data supporting the fact that self-compassion has the same mental health benefits as self-esteem: less depression, more optimism, greater happiness, more life satisfaction. But self-compassion offers the benefits without the drawbacks of self-esteem. Self-esteem is associated with narcissism; self-compassion isn’t. It’s self-compassion, not self-esteem, that predicts stability of self-worth—a type of self-worth that isn’t contingent on outcomes—as well as less social comparison, less reactive anger.

So both self-kindness and kindness to others leads to greater happiness. Both for you and those to whom you're kind.

Find out more at our next event in London. Or if you can't make it, follow us online and we shall share some of what we discover in future posts.