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Lululemon and 35 Ways to Make Customers Happy

How do you make customers happy?  Lululemon’s latest answer is inspiring – take 35 top insights from ‘positive psychology‘ – essentially the psychology of happiness, and bake them into your brand.  How do you do that?  Design products, services and campaigns that don’t simply solve people’s problems, but focus on what makes people happy.  Welcome to the next generation of design thinking – ‘positive design‘.

So here are the top insights from Lululemon’s campaign #FuelHappiness that includes ads, point-of-sale, and promotions (including a nifty set of evidence-based ‘fuel happiness’ cards with 35 tips, techniques and tricks from positive psychology for boosting happiness). Take your pick – if pleasure-seeking is not your thing, choose from six other happiness inducing bundles of activity

  • Pleasure-Seeking
  • Nourishing Connections
  • Cultivating Positivity
  • Showing Kindness
  • Living with Purpose
  • Exploring Meditation
  • Gratitude Habits

Read through the insights, and think beyond yourself and communication campaigns; ask yourself how could you build these insights into the positive design of your products and services?

Pleasure: Take Pleasure Seriously

  1. Awe-Some Times: Get’er done in about 15 minutes. Yes, we think you’ll feel awe-some after. Experiences of awe take your attention away from everyday issues, helping to make you feel more satisfied. Think of a time you felt like you had an experience where you felt vast, overwhelmed or your understanding of the world changed. This could be at the top of a crazy hike or after someone shared a life-altering idea. Once you pick an experience, write about it in great detail or share the experience you had with someone in your life. Rudd, M., Vohs, K. D. & Aaker, J. (2012). Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being. Psychological Science, 23(10), 1130-1136.
  2. Watch Animal Videos: Grumpy cat actually makes us happier. No, but for real. Stressed right meow? Science says those cat videos you love boost your mood and give you energy. We say keep ’em coming! In fact, you should watch one right now. (P.S. We’re pretty sure any animal video will do.) Myrick, J. G. (2015). Emotional regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online.: Who watches internet cats, why, and to what effect? Computers in Human Behavior, 52,168-176.
  3. Define Your Smile-Inducing Activity: All the smiles. All the time. Well, almost. Research has consistently shown that smiling makes us happier, at least in the short term. This exercise is all about defining your own smile-inducing activity to tap into when you’re down. Is it watching a Louis C.K. video? Or doing ten jumping jacks with a friend? What if you just force yourself to smile for thirty seconds and see how you feel? Take this time to define two to three smile-inducing activities that you can rely on. Kleinke, C. L. & Rutledge, T. R. (1998). Effects of self-generated facie expressions on mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 272-279.
  4. Connect with Nature: C’mon, even Tarzan could have told you this. Those who are more connected to nature, research suggests, actually experience more vitality, positive mood and life satisfaction. Maybe you like to head out for a hike or dip your feet in the ocean at the beach. Whatever way you connect with nature, make a point today to truly enjoy it. Capaldi, C. A., Dopko. R. L. & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 976
  5. Fun Cardio 15: Keyword: FUN. Fifteen minutes of cardio exercise. The fun kind. We suggest: swimming, intermural sports, running with a friend, hot yoga, a sweet bike ride, sex, etc. Get set, go! Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. New York: Penguin Press.

Connections: Nourish Your Connections

  1. Coffee Date with a Far Tie: Your most important asset is the size of your social portfolio – time to grow it one far tie at a time. The size and reliability of your social support network is the number one predictor of happiness. You have close ties (very close, best friends) and far ties (acquaintances who you may know a little) making up this social support network. To grow more connections you can count on, take a far tie to coffee to deepen your relationship. This could be your boss’ boss, your mom’s best friend or someone who you met at the gym. Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  2. Remember Connection: This quick writing exercise can be done once a week to remind you of the amazing people in your life. Take five minutes to describe a great moment you had with someone you are close to. Use specific details. Write how it made you feel closer and more connected to them. Pavey, L., Greitemeyer, T., & Sparks, P. (2011). Highlighting relatedness promotes prosocial motives and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(7), 905-917
  3. Active Listening: If you’re in a one-on-one or meeting up with a friend, use these tips to guide your listening. The next time you’re in a conversation with someone you want to be more connected with, ask to hear what’s on his or her mind. This is your chance to truly listen and make him or her feel understood, increasing the opportunity for a real connection to occur. Paraphrase: “I hear you saying ___.” Ask poignant questions:
    i) “When you say ___, do you mean ___?”
    ii) Express empathy: “I understand ___.” Or “I’ve experienced ___ too.”
    iii) Try not to solve the problem or give advice.
    iv) Avoid judgment: try to accept what they’re saying, even if you disagree.
    v) Use engaged body language: face them, nod, make eye contact, relax.
    Weger, H., Castle Bell, G. & Minei, E. M. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.
  4. Invite Collaboration: Collaboration is one of the foundations of connection – this one’s obviously an investment but we can guarantee it’s worth the reward. You probably already intuitively know this but shared experiences make you happier and are a key ingredient in social connection. Plan a group sweat, have a party, cook a meal, volunteer together or go on a road trip. What can you do with someone that will bring you together?Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological science, 13(1), 81-84.
  5. Spot Commonalities: Another quickie. Five to ten minutes at most. Think of someone who is very, very different from you – even someone you may not like. Got ’em in your head? Great. Now take 5-10 minutes to write a list of things you have in common (When you think about it, at the broadest level you share 99.9% DNA). Write how this experience has made you see them in a new light. This exercise has shown to make you more generous, and being more generous makes you happy! Pavey, L., Greitemeyer, T., & Sparks, P. (2011). Highlighting relatedness promotes prosocial motives and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(7), 905-917

Gratitude: Make Gratitude a Habit

  1. Launch an Appreciation Fest: Surprise someone you’re grateful for today and you may make his or her week (or month, or year). Plot with some friends, family members or coworkers to shower someone in your life with gratitude. Do it at the beginning of a meeting, at dinner, or on social media using a unique hashtag. If everyone shares something they’re thankful for about this person in one moment, the person receiving it is overwhelmed with joy – and luckily, you will be too. Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  2. Conscious Act of Kindness: This is a two-for-one happiness deal. One boost when you hit send and one when you get a reply. Yes, that means you should do it on the daily. Pick someone in your life that you’re thankful for and tell him or her a specific reason why. This only works when you’re deliberate and thoughtful about it. Take two to five minutes to write your text, email or letter now. (Bonus points for reading it in person.) Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  3. Start a Gratitude Journal: This is a 21-day commitment. You can do it. Find a way. Write down five things that make you happy each night before bed. Think about what each item means to you as you write it down. Making this part of your routine will help you avoid taking things for granted and have lasting happiness effects beyond the 21-day period. (Bonus points for sharing them over the dinner table with your loved ones.) Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  4. Three Good Things: Add this one into your morning routine and you should feel better about waking up. Take two minutes to write down three things you’re grateful for in the last 24 hours. Maybe you had great conversation after sex last night or you loved the taste of your kale smoothie this morning. It can be something big or small, but try to be as specific as possible. Achor, Shawn. (2010). The Happiness Advantage. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
  5. Self-Compassion Letter: Spin that negative self-talk into something amazing. This will likely take you 15 minutes but don’t stop until you feel like you’re done. Pick something in your life that makes you feel insecure, ashamed or not good enough. Maybe you suck at keeping secrets or have a love-hate relationship with the mirror. Once you’ve figured it out, write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, understanding and acceptance regarding this part of yourself. Speak to yourself like you’re a really good friend – what about this part of yourself makes you grateful? How has it helped or supported you? Consider things that are contributing to the negative aspects and list any constructive changes that could help you improve or cope with this issue better. Now, put this plan into action. Neff, K. D. et al. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 69(1), 28-44.

Positivity: Cultivate Positivity

  1. Scrap the Negative: You will need a bit of time and some supplies for this. We do it when we’re at a low point or facing a challenge head on. Physically destroying negative thoughts has been shown to help make them go away – makes sense in a weird way, right? Pick three annoying, negative thoughts or obstacles you’ve been experiencing lately. Write them on three different pieces of paper. Now you have two options: 1) Crinkle up the pieces of paper and throw them away (compost, if you can) Or 2) Find a safe place outside and light them on fire. Briñol, P., Gascó, M., Petty, R. E., & Horcajo, J. (2013). Treating thoughts as material objects can increase or decrease their impact on evaluation.Psychological science, 24(1), 41-47.
  2. Give Something Up: Every month, complete this exercise for one week to get the full effects. This one’s simple. Give something you love up for one week. Is it chocolate? Beer? That reality show you’re hooked on? Giving it up allows you to truly enjoy what’s positive in your life when it comes back into your life. Quoidbach, J. & Dunn, E. W. (2013). Give It up: A strategy for combating hedonic adaptation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 511-516.
  3. Find the Silver Lining: WARNING: guaranteed perspective shift. We use this daily – it’s amazing what’s possible when things don’t go your way. List five things that make your life enjoyable. Once you’ve done this, reflect on a time or situation when something didn’t go your way. Picture it clearly in your mind. Now write down three things about this situation that are positive and experience how your perspective changes. Mongrain, M. et al. (2014). An online optimism intervention reduces depression in pessimistic individuals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82 (2), 263-274.
  4. Count on the Future: This is a quickie. Perfect to start meetings or do on your commute. You’ve gotta be looking forward to something. Seeing an old friend this weekend? Finally getting a chance to marathon Game of Thrones? Going somewhere? Take two minutes to write down an experience you’re looking forward to. Why are you looking forward to it? What do you expect to feel? Why does it make you so happy? The more specific, the better. Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self‐compassion program. Journal of clinical psychology,69(1), 28-44.
  5. The Doubler: You take two minutes to brush your teeth, right? If you can do that, you can do this every day. You had a great moment, now you get to write about it – experiencing it again. This doubles the effect. Set a timer for two minutes. When you hit start, write about a positive experience that happened in the last 24 hours in serious detail. We get it. You loved that veggie dog so much you dreamed about it? What was on it? How did it smell? What did you taste? Who did you eat it next to? How did it make you feel? Slatcher, R. B., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). How do I love thee? Let me count the words the social effects of expressive writing. Psychological Science17(8), 660-664.

Kindness: Kindness Matters

  1. Volunteer or Donate Money: Giving away your time or money makes you feet better than receiving it. Maximize the psychological benefits of giving.
    i). You can’t feel obligated to give. You have to choose to do it.
    ii) Giving works better if you feel closer to someone after it.
    iii) Giving feels best when you know it’s actually going to make an impact.
    Choose to give today. What can you do today that will make you feel closer to someone and is actually going to make an impact? Volunteer your time with a friend at a local shelter? Do a favour for someone in an old-folks home? Can you sponsor a family overseas? Or give some money to a micro-loan nonprofit to help support a small business in an emerging market? Get creative, there are millions of ways to give. Dunn, E. W. & Norton, M. I. (2014). Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending
  2. Compassion Meditation: Love. It’s the most incredible thing we can give away, take five minutes to meditate for someone you love. Often referred to as loving-kindness meditation, this meditation is about setting a compassionate intention or affirmation for someone you love. Choose someone in your life that you love. Pay close attention to how this love feels in your heart and what sensations arise in your body as you think of them. Set a timer for five minutes. Breathe slowly. Imagine a golden thread of light extending out from your heart toward your loved one as you recite these mantras in your head:
    Weng, H. Y., Fox, A. S., Shackman, A. J., Stodola, C. & Rogers, G. M. (2013). Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1171-1180.
  3. Make Space for Connection: Okay interior decorators, this one’s for you. Rearrange the layout of your home or meeting rooms to promote connectedness. Notice areas like empty walls or cubbies where you could introduce objects that remind you of staying connected. Put up connecting words like “community” and “connection”, or photos of the people you care about. Feeling connected to your loved ones and community helps to promote your generosity. And as we’ve learned, generosity makes you happier. Pavey, L., Greitemeyer, T., & Sparks, P. (2011). Highlighting relatedness promotes prosocial motives and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin37(7), 905-917
  4. Lend a Hand to a Close Tie: This one’s a no-brainer. Kindness + connection = lasting happiness benefits. Doing someone a favour is good for the soul. Doing someone a favour that will help make you more connected is great for the soul. Close ties are the people in our social support network that we can couunt on. How can you lend a hand to a close tie to help develop a deeper connection with them? Aknin, L. B., Sandstrom, G. M., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2011). It’s the recipient that counts: Spending money on strong social ties leads to greater happiness than spending on weak social ties. PloS one, 6(2), e17018.
  5. Five Random Acts of Kindness: Time to pay it forward because giving feels damn good (it’s science, you guys)! The goal for today is to perform five completely random acts of kindness all in one day. These acts of kindness may be big or small – make a friend a meal, donate blood, buy a coffee for the person behind you in line, pay someone’s parking. Your receiver doesn’t need to know it’s coming or even who you are. After each act, write down what you did in a journal in one to two sentences. (Bonus points: write how it made you feel to do it to get more benefits.) Lyubomirsky, S. et al. (2012). Kindness counts: Prompting prosocial behavior in preadolescents boosts peer acceptance and well-being. PLOS ONE, 7, e51380.

Purpose: Living with Purpose

  1. Define your Core Values: When your goals line up with your core values, you pursue them with more passion, purpose and satisfaction. You should probably take 20 minutes for this. Think deeply about 20 things you value. For example, loyalty, creativity, adventure, autonomy, kindness, integrity, fun, freedom, etc. Now, narrow your options to ten values. Once you’ve done that, narrow your core values down to five. Now, check and make sure your goals line up with your values. Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014). The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention. Annual Review of Psychology,65, 333-371.
  2. Meaningful Photos: Channel your inner creativity – this quick, seven day challenge will light up your life. For the next seven days, photograph something that brings meaning into your life. Is it your partner? Your work? Your tattoo? Share your project on social media or print out a collage and hang it up. Daily reminders of what gives our life meaning helps to bring lasting fulfillment into our lives. Steger, M. F. et al (2013). Through the windows of the soul: A pilot study using photography to enhance meaning in life. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. 3, 27-30.
  3. Create Your Vision: Research shows that imagining a great outcome in the future actually helps it come true. Take all the time you need for this one.Picture your life in 10 years. The constraints of time, money and knowledge have completely vanished. Who is the best possible you? What do you do every day? What do you care about? Who do you care about? What brings your life meaning? How do you feel? Take some time to write your vision now. Different ways to create it:
    i) Describe a perfect day in your life 10 years from now.
    ii) Someone’s writing you a thank you letter, what do they say?
    iii) Describe just the facts (resume style).
    iv) Make a vision board.
    Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(2), 73-82.
  4. The Sweet Spot: Set aside an hour for this because the results are powerful. Draw three circles big enough to write several bullet points in. Label one PURPOSE for things that bring meaning to your life, another FUN for things you love to do and the other TALENTS or things you’re good at. Write 5-10 things in each circle. Once you’ve completed this exercise, draw a three-circle Venn diagram and begin looking for things on your list that overlap. Place words that show up in multiple categories in the cross-over sections of the Venn diagram. The more things overlap, experts say, the closer you are to your sweet spot (a.k.a. your purpose or mission). Anything you can put in the centre? Ben-Shahar, T. (2007). Happier: Learn the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment. McGraw-Hill Companies.
  5. Create Your Goals: Complete the “Create Your Vision” card before starting on this bad boy. Now that you’ve completed your 10-year vision, it’s time to extract some inspiring 10-year goals. Sifting through your vision, create two to three goals for each domain of your life: career goals, personal goals, health goals, etc. As you’re writing your goals, state what you want and make them specific – what exactly will you need to do? By when do you need to do it? Once you’ve written your 10-year goals, trickle them back to the next logical step five years and one year before it happens. When you’re finished, hang ’em up for the world to see. Example 10-year goal: I own a leadership retreat on 60 acres of land by November 2025. 5-year goal: I own 60 acres of land on Vancouver Island by September 2020. 1-year goal: I visit three different retreat centres by September 2016. Niemiec, C. P., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2009). The path taken: Consequences of attaining intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations in post-college life. Journal of research in personality, 43(3), 291-306.

Meditation: Exploring Meditation

  1. Savouring Walk: Find 15 minutes to stop and smell the roses-no, but actually. When we’re walking to-and-from our homes or workplaces, we often rush or are distracted by other thoughts. This exercise is all about savouring the moment and intentionally bringing more positive emotion into our walks. As you walk, notice as many positive things or sensations as you can. Smells, sights, tastes, sounds, etc. Maybe it’s the smell of a beautiful, grand evergreen tree or a funky detail on a building or the way the light casts a shadow along the street corner. Notice it and savour it as you walk. Do this for 15 minutes daily for a week to reap the happiness rewards. Bryant, F. & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  2. 10 Sounds: This one is great if you’re standing in a busy line, waiting to get off an airplane or needing to take your mind off something. Begin to breathe slowly and deeply. Shift your awareness to the soundscape around you. Begin to count distinct sounds in the environment. Maybe there is a low chatter, some dinging of objects or birdsong. You can count them on your fingers or tally them up in your head. Continue breathing slowly and deeply until you’ve heard 10 distinct sounds around you. Carmody, J. & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23-33.
  3. Take a Mindful Stroll: Ten minutes of walking meditation for a week can interrupt our patterns of rushing from place to place and remind us to really experience life as we live it. Find a location where you can take 10-15 steps without being disturbed or watched. Set your timer for 10 minutes and begin to walk slowly. Put your arms in a comfortable position, clasped together or by your side. As you walk, breathe normally and begin to deliberately focus on the component or sensation of each step. Lifting the foot, moving it in the air, placing it down again, shifting your weight, cycling to the next foot and so on and so forth. Take 10-15 steps and turn around to walk back to where you came from, letting your mind and thoughts go as you return to focus on the components of each step. Carmody, J. & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23-33.
  4. Davidji’s 16 Seconds: Davidji’s 16-seconds method works like a mantra, helping to focus your attention on a task while you breathe deeply. Find a comfortable seat in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed or watched. Begin to settle into it as you breathe slowly and deeply. Set your timer for five minutes. This mediation is all about focusing your attention on your cycle of breathing. To begin, inhale, counting four seconds in your head. At the top of your inhale, hold your breathe and count four seconds again. Now exhale, continuing to count four seconds. At the end of your exhale, hold your breathe again for four seconds. Begin the cycle again; inhale for four, pause for four, exhale for four, pause for four, Continue until your timer goes off! Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of behavioral medicine, 31(1), 23-33.
  5. Body Scan Meditation: Five minutes of daily meditation can help reduce stress, improve your well-being and decrease aches and pains. There are many different ways to meditate. The body scan meditation is all about systematically focusing your attention on different parts of the body. Begin by finding a comfortable seat in silence. Set your timer for five minutes and breathe normally as you start to focus your attention on your toes. From your toes to your ankles to your neck and down your arms, try to relax whatever part of the body that you’re focusing on. Breathing about five conscious breaths per body part will help make the five minutes fly by in no time. Carmody, J. & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23-33.


Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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1 comment
  • Paul, I am trying to find a deck of Fuel Happiness Cards for my sister. We recently ran across the Fuel Happiness cards at an Airbnb we were staying at in Folly Beach, SC. We LOVED the cards and I have been researching where to find them (no luck yet!). I was wondering if you could help me out?

Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.