In this brave new COVID-19 world, we have to watch out for each other. These times are unusual and not normal. This year in 2020, I challenge you to join me and others in the Happiness Packets Challenge from Monday, 27 April to Sunday, 3 May! This is the same challenge I made in 2017. Can you say thanks to someone different every day for one week?

When I was a kid, one of the most important lessons I learned was saying “thank you” when someones does something nice for you. So, a few years ago, I learned about this awesome little website called Happiness Packets. Its purpose is simple but powerful. Happiness Packets are open source thank-you cards you can send over email. You can send Happiness Packets to anyone for anything. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. You can put your name on it or keep it anonymous. The choice is yours. And now, I want to challenge you (yes, you) to the 2020 #HappinessPacketChallenge!

What are Happiness Packets?

Upstream describes it best. This comes straight from the Happiness Packets website:

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!

What are Open-Source Happiness Packets?

You can learn more about the Happiness Packets Challenge by browsing through the Twitter hashtag.

Take the challenge!

So, what is the #HappinessPacketChallenge? I challenge you to do the following: write one Happiness Packet a day, every day, for one week starting Monday, 27 April and ending Sunday, 3 May. At a minimum, this is seven times where you say “thank you” to someone else. Of course, nothing is stopping you from sending more if you want!

Maybe you are overwhelmed by the negativity on social media or the news channel. Especially today, when everyone is talking about one single thing: COVID-19. Whatever the platform is, the negativity can eat at you. For one week, this is your opportunity to choose something different. For all of the good things and people in your life, 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 your little packet of happiness every day for one week.

“But, I don’t know what to say…”

Having a hard time coming up with words or not sure who to thank? No worries. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. If you’re not sure who to thank, look at software you are already using. Look for names and emails of maintainers of open source software you enjoy. If you’re already contributing to open source, consider folks in your community! Thank someone who had a hand in helping you get started, or gave you a little bit of encouragement when you needed it most.

Maybe you have other ideas or reasons to thank others. (Heartbleed or Shellshock anyone?) Whatever the reason, don’t make an excuse to not 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 Packets

The magical part of Happiness Packets is sharing happy moments with others. If you receive one, don’t be afraid to share it with the world! Tweet at @happinesspacket on Twitter. Use the #HappinessPacketChallenge hashtag. Encourage other people to send their own thanks. If you get one other person to take the challenge, that has an impact on seven more people! Imagine what would happen if all of those seven people decided to take the challenge too.

So, I hope you will join me this year in this fun tradition. Get ready from Monday, 27 April to Sunday, 3 May to send some happiness! And if you’re feeling bold, challenge someone you know directly.


Love Letter by Vectors Market from the Noun Project.