One of the most important lessons I was taught growing up is to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. Many months ago, someone first introduced me to something called Happiness Packets. The idea is simple but powerfully effective. Happiness Packets are like thank-you cards for open source users or contributors. You can send a packet to anyone for anything. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. You can put your name on your message or you can keep it totally anonymous. The choice is yours. And now, I want to challenge you to the #HappinessPacketChallenge!
What exactly are Happiness Packets?
Fortunately, I don’t have to do a lot of work to explain this, because it’s all on the front page of the Happiness Packets website. Repeated below for your convenience:
People are generally much more loved than they think they are. Especially when things don’t go according to plan, other people almost never think as harshly of you as you might think of yourself. It’s easy for us to complain when bad things happen, and yet we’re often fairly silent when things are good. Open-source communities are no different, especially when our main communication channels are textual and virtual.
The feeling that you made a difference, that your work matters and has value, and that the people you work with are happy to work with you, is an awesome feeling. With Open-Source Happiness Packets, we’re trying to spread that feeling.
How does it work?
Openly expressing appreciation, gratitude, or happiness to other people can be difficult. This is especially true when you don’t know them very well. Many of us come from cultures in which people are not open by default about such feelings, and naturally feel uncomfortable or even creepy to share them.
Open-Source Happiness Packets is a very simple platform to anonymously reach out to the people that you appreciate or to whom you are thankful in your open-source community. Your message can be sent anonymously if you feel uncomfortable to share your name with the recipient. Of course, we encourage you to share your name, but it’s completely optional!
Take the challenge
So, what is the #HappinessPacketChallenge? I challenge you to do the following: write at least one Happiness Packet (or more!) every day for one week. At a minimum, this is only seven times where you say “thank you” to someone else in open source. Of course, you can send more if you want to.
If you open your social media feed or turn on the news channel, you probably see a lot of negativity. Whether it’s world events, politics, or other sad news, the negativity gets at you. For one week, this is your opportunity to have the opposite effect. For all of the good things and people you see, you can spend a few minutes of each day this week to make someone’s day. It seems simple—and it is! But the power you have to spread the positivity is a big power. So this is the challenge you have: to commit yourself to spreading that message every day for one week.
“I don’t know what to say.”
Having a hard time coming up with words or not sure who to thank? No problem. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. If you’re not sure who to thank, look at some of the software you’re using now. If you’re using a Linux distribution, start there! Look for the names and emails of maintainers of software you enjoy using. If you’re already contributing to open source, consider some of the people in your community! You can thank someone who had a special role in helping you get started or impacted why you decided to work on a project.
Maybe you have other ideas or reasons to thank others. Whatever the reason is, don’t make an excuse to say thanks! The options are limitless. If you have a lot to say, say it! If not, even a simple “thanks for all the work you do!” can go a long way to make someone’s day.
Share your happiness
The magical part of Happiness Packets is sharing happy moments with others. If you receive one, don’t be afraid to tell the world! You can tweet at @happinesspacket on Twitter. Use the #HappinessPacketChallenge hashtag. Encourage other people to send their own thanks. If you can get one other person to take the challenge, then you’re already making the days of seven more people! Imagine what would happen if all of those seven people decided to take the challenge too.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started! Go send a Happiness Packet now! And if you’re feeling bold, try challenging someone directly.