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ChooseHappy - Designing a Path to Daily Happiness

ChooseHappy is a happiness decision tool that enables patients and providers to create a plan for activities that bring happiness.

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

The tool is designed for end-of-life patients who seek to find daily happiness in their final months and weeks of life. It is based on the idea that, while people change constantly, finding happiness is not a lost cause. We can peer into snapshots of the psyche and understand what makes people happy by asking questions that we often fail to answer because answers are difficult to formulate. The tool enables providers to integrate activities that bring happiness into the patient's treatment plan.

This tool provides value to people in end of life care by identifying and selecting personalized variables for a comparative happiness test. Data is logged over time and a robust personal profile is recorded. The need that this idea solves is creating a place for happiness to be measured and considered clinically, not just by family members, caretakers or the patient alone. The MVP user interface is simple. One to three word descriptive sentences with simple mono colored objects that are meant to inspire the creation of a mental image. Patients are asked to compare these mental images resulting in actionable data.

The MVP decision tool test is run as such: 

1) Instruction: Please read the following word and observe the object presented. You may click when ready to move forward. 

[A. Click, B. Word and object pair A are presented] 

 2) Instruction: Pause for a moment to create a mental snapshot of the prescribed situation (for example, if the word is “play” and the object is a slide, you may picture a playground scene where your younger self plays). Write down or record a description of the mental image created.

 3) Instruction: Now repeat the process of creating and recording a mental image for the following word and object. You may click when ready to move forward. 

[C. Click, D. Word and object pair B are presented]

4) Instruction: Of the two mental images formed, tell us which one makes you feel the happiest. Use the slider below to indicate how much happier one image makes you than the other (if both images make you equally happy, leave the slider in the center). 

[E. Both Words and objects are presented opposite, F. Move slider to appropriate position]

5) Repeat process indefinitely and track self-reported happiness over time.

Results of comparison tests are delivered to a healthcare professional for integration into daily activities and scheduled into family visits. Family can be notified of frequency requirements and “add to calendar/make appointment” functionality opening a channel of communication for EoL happiness care needs.


  • Empowers healthcare providers with answers to difficult questions about psychological and emotional needs.
  • Makes happiness an achievable goal for EoL patients. 
  • Relieves the burden of scheduling from the family.

Happiness word object pairs are used to both identify broad and specific values by enabling the user to craft specific situations. The creation of a mental image provides a far more impactful (albeit subjective) foundation for measuring happiness as a feeling. Answers over time will reveal the value of introversion vs. extroversion, preferred types of activity, preferred presence of family. The idea would be to make happiness a priority and highly correlate the measured mental images with available activities at end of life in order to optimize the patient’s self-reported levels of happiness. At least one activity would be integrated in the patient’s daily routine allowing them an opportunity for happiness to be experienced daily. 

An exciting potential secondary effect of this product would be the positive emotional impact that would come from patients visualizing things that make them happy. Were this product prescribed as a routine component of a treatment plan, patients may in time grow to enjoy the testing process in addition to its outputs. I think the most important factor for this product is that the results be applied, planned and scheduled into the patient’s routine. 

Examples of happiness word object pairs:

Word [Object/Image/Icon]

  • Social [Dancing]
  • Social [Laughing]
  • Social [Watching a show]
  • Social [Music]
  • Quiet [Reading]
  • Quiet [Writing]
  • Quiet [Meditating]
  • Quiet [Yoga/Tai Chi]
  • Play [Music]
  • Play [Sport]
  • Play [Board games]
  • Play [Boating]
  • Family [Children]
  • Family [Grandchildren]
  • Family [Pet]
  • Family [Couple]
  • Family [Baby]
  • Active [Sport]
  • Active [Birdwatching]
  • Active [Swimming]
  • Active [Yoga/Tai Chi]

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The test can be initially run as a verbally administered survey. However care must be taken to carefully and accurately record data. The methodology should be tested rigorously to determine the most reliable methods. My hypothesis is that simply creating a space for reflection on what makes the patient happy will lead to increased self-reported levels of happiness, as long as the data is acted upon as it is collected.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The idea is in need of a practitioner's touch. There are myriads of happiness experts out there, physicians, psychologists and others who dedicate their lives to discovering and defining what makes people happy. This idea really needs their input in order to formulate a clinical model for deployment. Perhaps the most immediate area of need is creating a map of word/object pairs that account for relevant, common and actionable activities.

Tell us about your work experience:

I worked at a creative agency for five years across several roles before getting my master's in Technology Management from UCSB. My mission in life is to love everyone I meet unconditionally. I feel it is my responsibility to build technology that benefits the lives of the poor and underprivileged.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Welcome to the Refinement phase Justin! Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage all idea teams to consider in the Refinement phase:

1. How might this idea address the unique needs of the target audience you're designing for?
2. Clearly summarize the value offering of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps
4. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value offering:
5. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 07/12" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Shane

Hi Justin, 

Here are some feedback from our panel of experts: We have validated tools for all kinds of other "conditions" - depression, anxiety, etc. Why not happiness? We love that this idea is reaching back to life – and not focusing on death. There could be a lot of power in starting this process at young age, so that our happiness index is continually evolving as we age.

As you continue to work on this idea we'd love to see how you might flesh out the user experience and user journey of Choose Happy. We'd also love to see the learnings and feedback you'll get from the light-weight prototypes you've described!

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