One Minute Happiness

The Velten Task

This rather grey and plain looking blog post is going to make you happy, by showing you a neat trick psychologists use all the time to make people feel good. It has been a lab standard since its invention in 19681 by Mr Velten Jr., and is now used frequently in laboratories the world over to study how people act in different moods. I came across it in the Richard Wiseman's most recent book2. (You may recall he gave me the inspiration for the T-Shirt/Creativity post as well).

In a second, you will start the ‘happiness task’. There is a set of self-reinforcing statements that start off fairly benign, but gradually get more cheerful and reinforcing as they progress. You should read them slowly, one by one, and notice yourself feeling better with each one. You might totally feel the opposite, but just go with and even if it doesn't reflect how you feel before you've finished, perhaps you can remember a time when you did. You will very probably feel happier before the end - and if you think I've “ruined the trick” by telling you what should happen, it actually works better if you're told what to expect3.

Okay, now to begin. You can move through the following statements by pressing the Enter key to reveal one line at a time. And try to read them aloud if no one is around - no need to feel like a wally.

    Well done, you just read the whole thing!

    If you are feeling happier, you should use it to your advantage—happier people are proven to be more creative, although the time lag may be up to a day5. Additionally, happiness has been found to be more infectious than sadness 4, so get out there and share it!

    Thank you for participating, and continue to have a great day!

    — Adam


    A Laboratory Task for Induction of Mood States by Emmett Velten, Jr. (1968)

    The original paper that introduced the mood induction via statements read aloud.

    Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman (2012)

    The recent pop psychology book that introduced the task to me and made me research more and write this blog post. Wiseman is interesting and practical as always.


    A giant meta-analysis of 341 different articles on the velten task - from 1950 to 1989, so it doesn't even cover the past two decades.

    Emotions as infectious diseases in a large social network: the SISa model by Alison L. Hill, David G. Rand, Martin A. Nowak, and Nicholas A. Christakis (2010)

    An interesting analysis of social network data that revealed that long-term contentedness tends to spread similarly to diseases.

    Affect and Creativity at Work by Teres M. Amabile, Sigal G. Barsade, Jennifer S. Mueller, Barry M. Staw (2005)

    A rare real-world study into how mood is actually affecting peoples' lives on a day-to-day basis.