The Nature of Happiness: Mr. Happy Man Film and Activities

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    From The Global Oneness Project:

    Mr. Happy Man by Matt Morris documents the life of 88-year-old Bermudian, Johnny Barnes, who devotes six hours of his day greeting passers-by at a traffic circle in the capital city of Hamilton, with the hope of spreading positivity and joy as well as being of service to others.”

    Students watch the film Mr. Happy Man in three parts.  The film is broken up to allow for discussion, activities, and checking for understanding.  Each section of the film is noted with a start and/or stop time, with suggested activities following.

  • Activity 1: Mr. Happy Man Part 1 and Individual Flipgrid Activity

    Stop the video at 2:57

    After watching Part 1 of Mr. Happy Man, students use Flipgrid* to sign their answers to the following question: 

    In the film, the radio host said, “a lot of people couldn’t understand why he would do what he’s doing.” Why do you think Johnny Barnes was doing what he was doing? 

    *NOTE: Sign up for a Flipgrid account here:
    Alternatively, students can go to and use code: 1c7a4082. They need to tag their video with a # and your name (i.e. #drlindamiller) so you can easily find it for grading purposes.
    Videos are moderated before being posted.

    Activity 2: Mr. Happy Man Part 2 and Individual Summarizing Activity 

    Start video at 2:57; Stop the video at 7:19

    After watching Part 2, distribute sticky notes to each student. Students write a one-sentence summary using the following prompt:

    If you could summarize what Johnny Barnes represents in one sentence, what would be your description?

    Students post their sticky notes to your board and read what other students wrote.
    Digital alternative: Create a Padlet page and have students post their sentences to the page.

    Activity 3: Mr. Happy Man Part 3 and Small Group and Individual Activity 

    Start video at 7:19,

    After watching Part 3, students gather in groups of two to three to complete the following activities.

    1. Students work together to create a list of Johnny Barnes’s ideas and beliefs that explain his efforts to make others happy. Students use facts from the video to support their answers. (Some answers include: living a life of service, enjoying the beauty of nature, loving each other, and joy comes from helping others.) 

    2. Refer students back to the list that the United Nations used to measure happiness.  Students then use the Compare/Contrast worksheet 1 to compare and contrast what they believe makes Johnny Barnes happy with what the U.N. used for the happiness indicators.  Working together, they write two short paragraphs explaining their findings.

    3. Using another Compare/Contrast worksheet 2, students individually compare and contrast their own answers to the happiness poll in the Prior Knowledge activity. The student then writes two paragraphs explaining his/her findings. 

    4. Using the rubric, group members read and critique each other's paragraphs before submitting them for grading.

    Compare and Contrast (1) what makes Johnny Barnes happy with what the U.N. used for the happiness indicators.

    Compare and Contrast (2) what makes you happy with what the U.N. used for the happiness indicators.

    Use the Compare and Contrast Rubric to grade activities.