H(app)athon Indianapolis – The Idea and The Enjoyment

By Brandon Cockrum, H(app)athon Indy

When I was first invited to participate in the H(app)athon project I thought that it would be an opportunity to work with friends on an event that would bring more happiness to the world. I had little idea what to expect but I was intrigued by the prospect of Indianapolis (or even myself) suggesting THE idea that would change the world. As the planning process grew and the event neared it was easy for me to get lost (and even stress over) the details of the event and preparation for my presentation. I was focusing my energy on ensuring that the workshop came off smooth and sophisticated and that the groups would have both great inspiration and a solid framework to develop ideas.



(Photo courtesy of AprilArt Studios

As the attendees began to arrive at the Big Car Service Center, (our gracious hosts for the workshop) there was a pensive energy in the room – most of us knew no more than two or three others there and no one knew exactly where the night would take us. After a video introduction from John Havens and a welcome from the emcee, I kicked off the informative part of the evening with a presentation on the quantified self that segued into big data and subjective well-being. During the three presentations I could feel the group become more comfortable and engaged as the smiles grew larger, laughs louder and conversation increased. The presentations helped transformed the awkward energy into buzzing-excitement and armed those in the room with enlightening new insight into the three topics.


(Brandon’s video about Quantified Self) 

After splitting into three teams the groups quickly built momentum and soon had winding streams of ideas tacked to the windows. Laughs and smiles were highly contagious at this point everyone was open to participate, contribute and listen. We easily went over the allotted time, having fun with different ideation methods before each group converged on a single concept to propose.


For the idea pitch, we had visual communication graduate students Indiana University’s Herron School of Art & Design sketch concept prototypes and a group member lead the presentation. With everyone eagerly listening to the proposals it hit me: We were improving our own happiness simply by coming together for work and fun to benefit a common cause and higher purpose. (In fact, as I learned at the event, neurologists have proven that laughter reduces the stress hormone cortisol and releases endorphins, chemicals that improve our mood.)

 It no longer mattered to me one bit if THE idea that made the world a happier place came from Indianapolis. Seeing the enjoyment that the event brought to others and knowing that this was part of a world-wide, year-long event made the other outcomes less important to me. I hope that these events lead to a transformative impact on happiness, but regardless if that grand outcome occurs, the H(app)athon will be successful simply by being events where people come together to learn, share, laugh and experience joy with others.

Here’s a Video from our Event to Show You What I Mean: 

Special Thanks to Engage Video for the Video. 

Special Thanks also to April Doner and AprilArt Studios for all the great photographs of the event.  Here’s a blurb about April’s work – show her some love as a thank you to the Community!

AprilArt Studios reveals the abundance and growth potential within our selves and communities through writing, art, and Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). Services include art and photography commissions and original work, event and portrait photography, graphic facilitation, and documenting real-world stories of social and economic change with writing and photography. Together with Tesserae Learning,AprilArt also offers workshops, consulting and learning journeys in innovative social and organizational practices including ABCD, Theory U and World Cafe.