Welcome to the Creative Project! This is the fourth interview in a series I’m doing with people who are working on a creative passion project in their lives. By ‘creative project’ I don’t mean just things related to the arts – but anything that is about bringing something fresh into the world, creating something that wasn’t there before and drawing on your own creative energy to make it happen.
What is the difference between people who get behind their ideas and make them happen and those who are swimming in ideas but never get moving on them? How are people making time for their creative projects and weaving them into their lives?
What can we learn from others who have backed their ideas with action?
I want you dear reader to be able to glean any gems from their experience that might help you with your own creative projects. I’ll even share stories about a couple of my own creative projects, and some of the learning I’ve done myself along the way. So let’s get started!
In 2016 Aija Bruvere created a free mobile App The Happiness Jar based on the principles of Positive Psychology. I stumbled across the app late 2016 when it was just launched and being shared by a colleague of hers in a business group that I’m in on Facebook. I thought it was a great tool and wondered more about how and why she thought to make it. Here Aija describes the creative process, the importance of trusting your instincts, and the next steps and vision for her project.
What is the happiness jar app? Can you explain it for someone who’s maybe not familiar with the concept of a happiness jar or how apps work?
The Happiness Jar is a very simple tool (an app) on the mobile phone to allow anyone to notice, capture, sort and store happy moments. Instead of having a physical container, box or jar where you could put notes about your happy memories (which is also a great idea!) The Happiness Jar mobile app would always be within easy reach, right there on your phone. Keeping track of happiness becomes really easy, you can take new happiness snapshots or go through existing memories adding the special ones to your happiness collection. It is like visual gratitude journal (plus you can add written descriptions of happy moments too). The Happiness Jar is for your eyes only it is your personal treasure chest that does not get shared on social media or anywhere else.
You get to store all the happy photos or notes and you are also sorting them and creating your personal happiness timeline and profile. So after a while it becomes clear if more often happiness for you is about for example Positive emotion or maybe Enjoyable activities Relationships or perhaps Achievement or sense of meaning and Purpose.
What inspired you to start this project? What was your vision for how it might help people or bring benefit to the world?
I remember really clearly when the inspiration came – it was after reading Elizabeths Gilbert’s extremely popular post January last year about keeping a physical Happiness Jar where you would have to put a note in with at least one happy memory every day. At the end of the year you have 365 colorful and beautiful memories to look back at. And then I thought ‘but what about people who travel a lot or don’t have space or time for a physical jar – there surely must be a digital happiness jar?’ But it did not exist! So I decided I needed to create it.
This idea of happiness pathways is taken from a famous theory in Positive Psychology by Martin Seligman, but with this app it is your actual memories and experiences make your classification and the jar very personal.
I believe it is very important to appreciate little daily moments of happiness because that is how happiness and wellbeing is created long term. My vision still is that The Happiness Jar makes the world a happier place one memory at a time, it lets us store and recall small happy moments and ensures that happiness is something of here and now not something forever in the future.
How did this project fit in or relate to the work you already do?
It is very much in line with the work I do. I am a Positive Psychology coach, a Happiness coach. I work one on one to improve wellbeing and happiness as well as give workshops and seminars on Science of Happiness for companies, I teach a Happiness project course at a Business school and I also lecture on Happiness on cruise ships. So The Happiness Jar app is another more practical application of ideas I love to spread and promote.
Do you have a technical background? Had you worked on any app development projects before? Did you feel daunted by the technology aspect?
I do not have a technical background and I have never worked on an app development project before. However this project actually flowed with ease and grace. I feel the key is to create a team of likeminded people who also just love the idea and then create clarity of what is the minimum we have to do for this to be a success.
Who (if anyone) did you team up with to make your project come to life?
We had a very small team of 3 people: Me Aija Bruvere as the creator, author of idea, leader and then the team leader-programmer for technical execution and development Edgards Zvirgzds as well as a designer Liva Asmane for creating the visual aspect of it.
I think the right people attract when the idea is clear and the world is ready for the idea, I had never worked with that programmer or designer before but it was clear the connection and team vision was formed around The Happiness Jar idea specifically.
What did you learn about your own creative process along the way?
That at first there is this one very clear idea and the conviction I have to do this, then there is the expansive stage of more ideas associated with it and how to make it even more impressive and great. So there is this huge influx of related and unrelated ideas at one point. And then I had to ground it, to narrow it down to the minimum simple clear idea again to make it happen within the short timeframe. Team work and discussions are helpful in the creative process.
What stage are you up to now and what will come next?
We have just released the app and done initial push for promoting it mainly through our own networks and on Facebook. So we are still at the launch stage. The focus right now really is the promotion (getting people to know about it but with no budget for promotion) and also on building the version for Android phones which proved more difficult and time consuming than we though. From idea to reality, getting to this stage, took about one year.
My vision for the project is that the The Happiness Jar app will have a second stage that requires building a platform. Luckily we were able to create the app on a shoestring budget, investing a lot of personal time and enthusiasm but to go forward we would need an actual investor who believes in the project to take it to the next stage. So I guess the next stage is not so much about the creativity it is about creating a new business model.
What has been the response so far? How do you feel about the app?
The response from the right target market is very positive – people really say they love the idea and that they love how simple it is. It feels good to have created it in just one year from inception of the idea and in just 4 month from really getting the team together and creating a plan of how we are going to do this. While we have the vision for further expansion and that would require investment, the response from potential investors however has been much more reserved. But I guess our task now is to build up number of users to the point that investors are convinced people love this and it is worthwhile.
How do you feel about yourself as a creative person after making the app?
Manifestation of a creative idea does have a certain sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. There is for sure an aspect of Happiness in it that is associated with Meaning and achievement. I guess the creation of The Happiness Jar can go into The Happiness Jar as something very positive that has happened for me in 2016! (laughs).
What tips or suggestions do you have for someone else with an idea who wants to make it happen?
Ideas that take you out of your comfort zone have a huge creative potential.
It is paramount to find the right people who can help make the idea into reality.
Trust that inspiration and idea that comes to us also comes with certain responsibility and we have to be grateful that it has come and can also make the world a better place by helping it manifest.
About the interviewee:
Aija Bruvere is a coaching psychologist and business consultant currently living and working in Sydney, Australia. Besides having a degree in Economics and Business Adminstration as well as Masters degree in Social sciences Aija has obtained her Graduate Diploma in Coaching Psychology from University of Sydney, with particular focus on applied Positive Psychology. Aija Bruvere is passionate about sharing scientific research and making it applicable. Aija is the owner and founder of ABM Consulting, a firm specializing in executive coaching, workshops and seminars. Since 2008 Aija Bruvere has prepared and facilitated series of personal development seminars and workshops that focus on leadership, goal attainment, transformation, success and happiness. In 2015 and 2016 Aija has run seminars and retreats in Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and Latvia.
More about Aija Bruvere: http://aijabruvere.com
More about the free mobile app The Happiness Jar: http://thehappinessjar.com
About the interviewer:
Jade Herriman is a Sydney-based transpersonal art therapist, Barbara Sher coach and facilitator. She works with clients to help bring more creativity into their lives, plan for their professional development, manage big life change and go after their dreams. She works with groups, individuals and online to deliver workshops and help support people work towards their dreams. She brings a playful, flexible and creative approach to serious issues, and draws on many years of experience working in organisations in project management, policy and research roles to bring practical solutions to her clients. To work together one on one or find out more about future workshops contact her HERE.