Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Trading with ‘Happiness Currency’​

By | Prabodh Sirur | In search of Postitive Intranets at In search of Positive Intranets

My cousin Pratima asked me a few days ago, “I love to paint but haven’t the faintest idea how to charge for these paintings. Can you guide me?” In response, shared with her the formulae used in charging an art.

This simple conversation triggered a crazy thought – If Pratima’s art is to create happiness, why can’t she charge her paintings in terms of ‘Happiness currency’’?

I do not think anyone in the world charges their clients in terms of Happiness Currency. Why can’t she become the first in the world?


Here’s the sales conversation, that I imagine, between Pratima and Kamla, her first prospect buying the art using Happiness Currency.

Kamla – These are lovely paintings Pratima.

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Pratima – Thanks. I really felt so happy painting these Unicorns. Kids will love them for sure.

Kamla – I would love to buy one from you for my granddaughter. She loves Unicorns.

Pratima – Why not? Your granddaughter will be really happy.

Kamla – How much do you charge for a Unicorn?

Pratima – You should not laugh at what I’m going to say. This is the first time I am selling my art, that too in a totally new currency.

Kamla – Oh wow; Tell me more.

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Pratima – When I painted these Unicorns, I invested my time in it and felt really happy thinking about all the children who will own them; So I said to myself, let me invent a new currency representing happiness. I call this currency Mbhutan as a mark of respect to Bhutan, the happiest country in the world;

And this is how the pricing works – The base price for someone who is super happy to buy this painting is 3,000 Mbhutans. Can I say you are super happy to buy this?

Kamla – Amazing. Of course I am super happy.

Pratima – Can I add more to your happiness?

Kamla – Go ahead. It’s interesting.

Pratima – Research says, discounts generate huge happiness in buyers’ mind. So let’s add 300 Mbhutan’s to your happiness.

Kamla – I am really enjoying this conversation. Go on.

Pratima – Here’s some material, a unicorn stencil, a canvas board and crayons, if you want to create your own Unicorns with your grandchild. Those will be magic moments for you.

Kamla – Oh yes; it will be wonderful. Let me buy the material.

Pratima –  Kamla, I have decided to give some Mbhutans from each sale for buying painting material for poor students. I want you to know that you are going to create happiness for some of them.

Kamla – Really appreciate your gesture. Add some more Mbhutans for the students from my side too. Pratima, I am going out from here with so much happiness and a great thought about Mbhutans. Thank you for enriching me. By the way what’s the exchange rate for your Mbhutans?

Pratima (laughing) – Oh, currently it is one Indian Rupee for an Mbhutan. The calculations are a bit different though. For example, when I give you discount, it is added in the total for Mbhutans but deducted in Rupees; or when you donate a sum for the students, the amount is doubled for Mbhutans. You will find these calculations in the receipt.

Here’s your receipt. You can either keep it to remind you to generate happiness in your own style each day or exchange it for a further discount from the art shop round the corner. Stay Happy!

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Pratima made a sale and she showed a new way of generating happiness to her clients

Edward De Bono, father of Lateral Thinking came up with a framework to evaluate any new idea. He calls this a Six Thinking Hats framework. The essence of this framework is – one has to look at an idea wearing six different hats.

Here’s some critical thinking using Six thinking hats to evaluate the Mbhutan concept:

Is using Mbhutan currency a good idea?

White hat – Looking at facts and available information only.

Q – What is the available information?

White hat answers –

  1. No one uses such currency except Fortune Pharmacal in Hong Kong where they want customers to write a story of a happy moment on Fortune Dollar. Thereafter the note has a value of 10 HK Dollars
  2. There is no established framework about Happiness Currency

Yellow hat – Only optimistic point of view

Q – What are the advantages of applying the solution? Why do you think it is workable?

Yellow hat answers –

  1. Will generate lot of discussions in the community about the seller and her concept
  2. Will enhance visibility and brand of the seller
  3. Curiosity sale will increase
  4. Buyers will start thinking more about happiness

Black hat – Only negative views; Looking at only the cons of the suggestion and the disadvantages and why the suggestion may not work based on logical reasons

Q- What are the risks? and why is the suggestion not working?

Black hat answers –

  1. Too much time will go in customer interaction
  2. Buyer may think that this is some gimmick just to make a sale
  3. This idea may not at all work when selling products like heavy engineering machines. Can’t imagine someone saying – we want to sell $3 Mn of happiness to you. The buyer will stop any further discussion and go away
  4. What the customer will gain out of this concept in concrete terms is not clear
  5. You will have to look at the whole ecosystem – if the quality of the product is poor, this gimmick will actually make the customer angry
  6. If the rupee price is too high, the customer will feel cheated
  7. If the aesthetics of the shop is poor, customer will point out all the flaws to show that you don’t actually mean to generate happiness
  8. If the seller himself/ herself is not happy from within, the whole transaction will look fake

Red hat – Gut reactions such as love, hate, like and dislike etc.

Q – What do you feel about the suggestion? and what is your gut reaction toward the suggestion?

Red hat answers –

  1. On a negative side, customer may think the seller is crazy
  2. On a positive side, customer may actually feel great
  3. The seller may suspect the real talent of the artist thinking ‘why the artist wants to use such selling gambit’;  The art should sell itself
  4. The seller should be careful how he/ she articulates this new idea
  5. The buyer may ask for more discount saying more discount will add to happiness. What will be the seller’s response?

Green hat – The creative thinking part of the discussion/ evaluation

Q – What are some creative solutions to the problem?

Green hat answers –

  1. Deeper connect between buyer and seller is possible enabling repeat sale
  2. Quality of the product will be higher because the seller ‘really’ wants happiness for customers. So at each stage of production including at the sales conversation, customer will perceive the seller’s wish to generate happiness in the transaction
  3. The buyer could start thinking how he/ she can use this concept for transactions with his/ her clients. This will create a new revolution in using Happiness Currencies.

Blue hat – This hat is used to moderate the thinking process

  1. A step by step process is needed to explain to the customer how happiness is built at each step

Pratima, thanks for asking me for help. This is what I learnt in the process of creating a unique selling proposition for you. Hope you can implement this in real life and make the world a better place.

  1. Research findings from Dr. Paul J. Zak, a Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, on the physiological and psychological effects of coupons(discounts) – Oxytocin levels go up by 38%; those who received coupons were 11 percent happier than those participants who did not get coupons.
  2. Critical skills required for a successful sale – Presence (ability to portray a visual), Relating (connecting with the client), Questioning (probing to understand client needs), Listening, Positioning, Checking.
  3. The cover picture is from a video of a pharma company, from Hong Kong, called Fortune Pharmacal that created a Happiness Currency called Fortune Dollar. It’s a paper that turns into money when users write their happy moment on it. Happiness is circulated all over Hong Kong with Fortune Dollar, and local shop owners receive subsidy when they accept Fortune Dollar for transaction.
  4. Positive psychology interventions –
  5. If you want to find happiness, find gratitude – Steve Maraboli,
  6. Kindness is a trait all happy people possess – Aknin, Dunn, and Norton
  7. Healthy social bonds are essential for happiness and inner peace – Diener and Seligman
  8. Why Happiness Is the Ultimate Currency (Tal Ben-Shahar) –  A jewish quote – “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot”. Sources of the ultimate currency, the happiness currency – Record your daily activities, Assign meaning and pleasure, Highlight activities with high-yield happiness, Introduce happiness boosters

Photo credits:

The Unicorns – Pratima Kapur

Grandmother and granddaughter painting together


Whenever I create an article, I want to write something about Impressionism. The Impressionist art movement is my source of inspiration. It reminds me to think about innovation and about challenging the status quo.

Impressionism (1860–1890) is a 19th-century art movement. It was started by painters to challenge the then existing style of painting. They re-defined painting as an impression of one’s mind rather than what is seen by the eye. They turned the artistic establishment upside down with their revolutionary new approach to painting.

Let me write today about Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), one of the important Impressionist painters. Pissarro was Danish-French impressionist. Art historians called Pissarro the “dean of the Impressionist painters”, not only because he was the oldest of the group, but also “by virtue of his wisdom and his balanced, kind, and warm hearted personality”.

Republished with permission and originally published at Prabodh Sirurs Linkedin 

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