“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
A 21-day benefit mindset challenge is a whole school approach to creating cultures of wellbeing.
How does the challenge work?
It’s easy to get started. Very simply, for 21-days, students, teachers and parents are invited to practice a small act of everyday leadership (such as express gratitude or an act of kindness). The only catch with the challenge is that every day, the action chosen must be something new.
What tends to happen is in the first week people act in familiar ways that aren’t too disruptive and outside of their comfort zone. In the second week, our actions get harder as everyone is challenged to try new things. By the final week, we start to see signs of creativity and innovation, as everyone is challenged to discover new capacities and latent potential they didn’t know they had within them.
Why should my school do the challenge?
“Not only is it the case that happy people are more willing to help others, but as I generally point out, helping others is the best way to help yourself, the best way to promote your own happiness. It is you, yourself, who will receive the benefit.” — Dalai Lama
This simple activity can lead to surprising and even transformative results. This includes;
- By disrupting our routines in life affirming ways, we build new positive habits that can change the world.
- The cumulative effect of taking small actions alongside one another creates an upward spiral of wellbeing. You feel good, others feel good, and everyone becomes more courageous and creative. For example, let’s say you have 2,000 people doing the challenge together for 21-days. That’s 42,000 acts in total — creating a profound, elevating experience.
- Participating in the challenge leads to meaningful conversations about what it means to not only see ourselves as learners, but also as leaders in everyday life.
- It’s a whole lot of fun!
We think this is one of the most powerful interventions a school can host to build community and create a culture of wellbeing.
How does my school run a challenge?
That’s up to you, but here are a few tips based on what we’ve learnt through the challenges we’ve run.
- Have a launch event to generate excitement and introduce participants to the benefit mindset and the value of being a leader in everyday life. This could be done by watching a clip like the kindness boomerang and our benefit mindset video, or alternatively you could facilitate a benefit mindset workshop.
- Reflecting on experiences is a vital part of running an impactful challenge. Questions to explore include; how did my act of everyday leadership make others feel? How did my act of everyday leadership make me feel? How did my actions create a better world? This could be done electronically or in an old fashion journal. Whatever option is chosen, we think it’s a good idea to be consistent, so participants can see their progress unfold over the 21 days.
- Inspiring one another to stretch ourselves and be courageous is an important part of the challenge. We’ve found one of the most powerful ways to do this is by regularly sharing stories of our experiences. We recommend that every few days, some time is allocated for story sharing. This can be simply led in small groups, or it can be powerfully enhanced using installations such StoryPod. Also think about how you can use social media to share inspiring stories with your school community.
- If you’re looking for extra inspiration, there are great action suggestion lists, such as this one from Actions for Happiness.
- Consider appointing a student-led group to collate standout stories and curate them into an exhibition, video or article that celebrates your collective journey. Local media outlets love heart-warming content from students, so don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you can share your stories publicly with the wider community and the world.
How can my school get support with running a challenge?
Get in touch and let’s work together! We are a small organisation located in Melbourne, Australia, and rely on working with schools and organisations to sustain ourselves.
We hope you found this guide useful and we’d love to hear how you go!
This challenge was inspired by kindspring.org, who run a range of 21-day challenges including a kindness challenge, a gratitude challenge, an eco-footprint challenge and more.