Our Work

The BIG JOY Project

Screenshot of The BIG JOY Project home page


Client Since
October 2021

Mission: JOY aims to share the mission of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu with as many people as possible, through the book, the film, and the impact campaign: There are simple, scientifically proven exercises each of us can do to access more JOY every day.

Hop Studios was honored to collaborate with Mission: JOY, GGIA, and UCSF to help execute and launch the world’s largest-ever citizen science project on JOY.

Screenshot of The BIG JOY Project personalized BIG JOY Report
Services Provided

In the fall of 2021, Hop Studios began working on The BIG JOY Project, a collaborative undertaking with multiple stakeholders: UC Berkeley’s Greater Good In Action (GGIA); Mission: JOY; and happiness researchers from The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The project’s inception is rooted in the documentary film Mission: JOY, which shares the wisdom and humor of two of the world’s most beloved icons of peace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The film showcases their mission: to show the world how to live with JOY, even in troubled times.

The BIG JOY Project is a real-world mechanism to spread that mission by guiding participants through a free daily 7-minute practice, or micro-act of JOY, for 7 days. In addition to the micro-acts of JOY, participants complete a series of survey questions at the start and end of the week, as well as answering emotion check-in questions before each day’s micro-act of JOY, after completing it, and at the end of the day. After their final micro-act of JOY, their participant survey and check in answers are used to generate a personalized BIG JOY Report that charts key happiness markers from the week. The week-long BIG JOY Project is a springboard that introduces participants to the concept that they have some agency over their own emotional well-being, and provides experiences and tools they can use to influence that well-being.

Additionally, The BIG JOY Project produces a large dataset for use by science researchers of happiness at the Greater Good in Action and the University of San Francisco—in fact it is the world’s largest citizen-science project about happiness!

When creating the project’s website, Hop Studios was mindful of the complex factors involved in facilitating global access and localization to each participant’s time zone. We built the site to be usable across all devices—desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The website also meets WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility requirements to make The BIG JOY Project usable for participants with disabilities. Participants are additionally supported by the ability to access The BIG JOY Project in multiple languages. A primary project requirement was to eliminate barriers to access of all types.

To handle the timeline and flow of the experience, Hop Studios wrote an extensive custom ExpressionEngine add-on for both the BIG JOY Project and GGIA’s Pathway to Happiness (a similar month-long program). This add-on manages signups, timezone and notification settings, randomized presentation of micro-acts of JOY to each participant, onboarding and closing surveys and daily check ins, and generates the data used by the scientists conducting the research project.

After six months, the team worked together to roll out a set of 2.0 updates surfaced from data analysis of the user experience, customer support interactions, and evolving needs of the scientists. These extensive 2.0 updates included:

  • After completing the program, participants may return to make up micro-acts of JOY they missed and repeat those that were beneficial.
  • An individualized progress bar illustrates progress visually and by percentage of completion as the participants advance through the program.
  • A global user location map demonstrates at a glance the project’s global reach and the top participating countries. We also added real-time counters that display the total number of micro-acts of JOY, total participants, and total number of participating countries.
  • Fine-tuned language updates to reduce the possibility of expectation building during the project.
  • Replacing practices that users weren’t enjoying with more satisfying micro-acts of JOY
  • New questions were added to the onboarding and closing surveys and emotional check ins to permit scientists and participants to gain additional insights.

The BIG JOY Project 2.0 rolled out at the same time as the Mission: JOY film’s global social media launch, which included a free global watch event: Unite for Joy. In the two weeks leading up to Unite for Joy, Mission: JOY reached 108 million followers on social media—45 million from their own Facebook channels, 12 million from public figures that cross-posted to Facebook, and more than 51 million reached from Twitter conversations about the film or the launch event. There were 13.3 million views on Facebook during the launch, and the film reached #3 on iTunes for documentaries!

Hop Studios is grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a powerful and lasting global endeavour, and for the many opportunities this unique project has offered us to advance our knowledge and skills. When a project does good in the world, it does good at every level—for those participating in The BIG JOY Project, for those who inspired and designed it, for the scientists advancing the study of happiness, right down to those ducks who wrote the code.




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