CyberQuick Tip: Happify

Okay, so maybe you can’t go on that dream vacation to the South Seas to unwind.  Maybe you’re stuck in Yardville because the budget doesn’t support anything other than the ‘backyard staycation’, working on the honey-do list.  Here is an app that can help you achieve the nirvana of a trip just by accessing your mobile device – and it can be used every day and without having to wait in TSA lines at the airport.

The app, “Happify” was launched in 2012 and relies on research to help users achieve ‘happiness and a sense of well-being’.  Their site description states:  “Happify uses cutting-edge science and innovative technology to empower individuals to lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Happify’s science-based activities and games are based on a decade’s worth of research by psychologists and neuroscientists from leading academic institutions around the world. Our proprietary framework is designed to help users build skills for lasting happiness and feel more engaged, motivated and excited about the future.”

According to their research, happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel day-to-day. It turns out that about 40% of your happiness is controlled by your thoughts and actions, 10% by your circumstances, and the other half is genetic.  While genetics can’t be controlled, Happify claims you can train your brain to change the 40% and possibly impact your circumstances, which are half the battle.

Their proprietary framework, STAGE, relies on developing 5 essential skills that are key to happiness:

  • Savor: The practice of being mindful and noticing the good stuff around you, taking the extra time to prolong and intensify your enjoyment of the moment, making a pleasurable experience last for as long as possible.
  • Thank: Identifying and appreciating the things people do for us fills us with optimism and self-confidence
  • Aspire: Feeling hopeful, having a sense of purpose, being optimistic.
  • Give: Being kind not only makes us feel less stressed, isolated and angry, but it makes us feel considerably happier, more connected with the world, and more open to new experiences.
  • Empathize: The ability to care about others, to imagine and understand the thoughts, behaviors or ideas of others, including those different from ourselves.

Each experience within Happify includes a “Why it Works” section with a simple explanation supported by cited research. Here are some examples of types of experiences.

  • Reduce negative thinking:   A game called “Uplift” can help train your brain for positivity, lift your mood and reduce negative thinking. As hot air balloons float by, click on words like “joy” or “radiant” while ignoring words like “criticize” or “angry.” The goal is to focus on the positive and bypass the negative.
  • Want to relax?:  With the “Serenity Scene” activity, a guided relaxation track can help people unwind, feel less anxious and get a fresh charge of energy (grounded in brain scan research).
  • Experiences for all ages?: Kids can enjoy their version of negative knockout with an ‘angry birds’ like game where you choose your biggest challenges that day (procrastination, irritability) and destroy those words with a slingshot.

There are freemium as well as paid versions.  Some of the higher end paid versions are offered at the enterprise level so your workplace can enjoy shared euphoria.

Does it work?  Happify’s site claims that 86% of regular users saw happiness improvements in 2 months, while there are both positive and negative reviews on the Google Play and Apple download sites.  Try it – what have you got to lose other than your negative attitude?‎