Creative Workshop Exercises: Easy and Engaging Workshop Activities #13 Boosting Happiness at Work with Positive Emotion Cards

 Positive Emotion Cards

Impact:  Increase positivity at work

Materials Needed: One pack of positive emotion cards for each working group of 4 people at the event or workshop or in the team.

Remember, should you decide to buy one or more packs of cards, you can get 10% off your first shop order with a newsletter subscription

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Professional Use: 

Who is Boosting Happiness at Work for?

This exercise is designed to help people identify and focus on the opportunities at work to experience positive emotions. It will be useful for wellbeing consultants and other workshop leaders, as well as team leaders and managers. It can be particularly useful in difficult and challenging workplaces where opportunities to notice, experience and savour moments of happiness or good feeling can be overlooked.

 How does it help with Boosting Happiness at Work?

The exercise enhances peoples’ capacity for experiencing positive emotions at work by asking them to focus their attention on identifying when they feel positive at work. It then encourages them to explore more deeply what makes that possible, what such feelings mean to them, and how they can expand their experiences of feeling good.

In addition, talking about positive emotions and remembering positive emotional states tends to produce positive emotions in the moment. In this way, the exercise works on two levels at the same time: the present and the future.


Organise your participants in groups of 3-6 people, four is a good number, around a table.

Give each table a pack of cards. 

How to run the exercise

Ask each group to separate out the title card, the ‘how to use’ card, and the information cards from the pack (there are 5 of these information cards)

 Positive emotion cards

Then ask them to spread the remaining thirty cards out on the table, picture side up

Positive Emotion Cards 

Part One

Then, ask that everyone at each table, in turn

  • Selects a card that is meaningful to them in a work context
  • Explains a little bit why they choose it
  • Then turns it over and selects one of the questions on the back to stimulate some group discussion.

For example, someone might pick Trust, then might turn it over and choose to discuss the question ‘Describe what being able to trust someone feels like to you?’

 Trust Positive Emotion Card       









I would allow 10-15 minutes for each person in the group to have their turn.

Once everyone has had a turn at that you can of course take some feedback, or you can move straight into part two of the exercise.

Note, this can be used as a ‘firelighter’ warm up exercise,  by missing out the third part of the exercise and instead just asking each person to identify a positive emotion that is meaningful to them and to explain why, before moving on the next person in their small group.


Part two

This time, ask each person in the group, in turn

To select an emotion that they would like to experience, or experience more frequently, at work

Then, to turn the card over and select an action or mindset suggestion to ‘talk to’, that is to think, and talk, about how it might work for them. Naturally this can evolve into a group discussion about the action point chosen.

For example, someone might choose playful, and want to talk about the mindset that ‘we don’t have to be solemn to be serious’, that we can be playful and still be working hard.


With colleagues help, they could explore how adopting that attitude could make it easier to find moments to be playful at work while still being focused on achieving outcomes. And to think about the impact of that on forming positive relationships, or other work challenges, as appropriate. 


An extension of the exercise

If additional time is available, part three offers an extension of the exercise that allows people to better understand the benefits of feeling good 


Part three

Ask each person, in turn, in each group,

  • To select an emotion they are interested to know more about
  • Then to refer to the appropriate information card to share what it says about how that emotion is good for the individual and good for the workplace

The group can then discuss their observations or experiences of these positive effects before moving on to the next person

For example, someone might pick Transcendence as an emotion they are curious about. The information card explains the positive impact of experiences of transcendence on our mental health, and on pro-social behaviour at work.


Depending on time available, you can encourage the groups or group to extend their discussion of the role of positive emotions in boosting happiness at work.

The Positive Emotion Cards pack featured here is available at the Positive Psychology Shop. A discount of 10% on your first shopping basket is available to new newsletter subscribers 

If you have any queries about the exercises as described, please contact We will publish any queries and answers in the next newsletter to the benefit of all.

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Sarah Jane Lewis