A couple of months ago, one of the founders of Happify.com contacted me to ask if I’d like to be a beta tester of the site before it went public. Of course I said yes, because I’m always interested in all possible ways of increasing happiness for myself and others.
Created by a combination of scientists and game designers, Happify uses games, quizzes and activities designed to help improve your level of happiness because, as they write in the About Happify section, “Just like physical fitness, there are activities you can do on a regular basis to become happier.” Scientific evidence indicates that about 40% of our happiness level is within our control (the remaining 60 % stems from genetics and demographics). That means that we can have a significant impact on how happy we feel by doing things that make us happier.
Happify has broken down the activities into five “essential happiness skills”: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, Empathize. Once you sign up, you’re given an initial assessment of your happiness level. Then you choose a “track” to follow. You can measure and follow your progress on your designated track, and you can switch tracks if you want to. Most activities take only a few minutes, with a few more minutes more to write about them. Some you can pledge to do, then come back and report on how they went. You can read about the science behind each activity by clicking the “Why It Works” button. Members are encouraged to follow other members, “Like” and comment on others’ Happify posts. You can set each activity to be visible to your followers, or just yourself. (To protect people close to me, I chose to keep a couple of the more sensitive activities private.) You can choose photos to illustrate your posts from the Happify site, from Facebook or from your own computer. There is also a Happify Facebook Group you can join.
In addition to Happify members’ posts, Happify’s home page features the “Daily Happifier”—photos, videos, quotes or short stories intended to boost your mood.
So far, I’ve completed one track: “Cope Better with Stress,” and I’m now working on “Nurture Your Body and Soul.” Other tracks include “Appreciate What You Have,” “Explore the Art in Happiness,” “Be More Socially Connected,” and “Enjoy Parenting More.”
So what do I think? I have to admit my initial response when I started was to feel more stressed! (Oh, no—I’m falling behind on my happiness activities!) The program is set up so you do a certain number of activities in a certain time frame, and I could not keep up. This was partly because since I am a “Pioneer,” I was taking them very seriously and wanting to put some time and thought into each activity. I wanted to post, comment on others’ posts and give feedback as often as I could. Once I realized I could extend my track as often as I wanted, and that no one was pressuring me to finish, I settled down to my own slightly plodding and erratic pace and relaxed about the whole thing.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is how oblivious I am throughout the day. I don’t take the time to notice and savor. I charge through my days trying to “achieve” as much as I can, whether that means a writing project, household chore or batch of errands. I’m missing my own life! The Happify activities, many of which require a bit of reflection, have helped me be more mindful, to plan treats for myself and others, and to think more deeply about my life.
I think if you go at your own pace, and participate as much or as little as you like, Happify can be a fun way learn more about what makes you happy, as well as connect with others who are focused on bringing more joy to everyday life. Happify has extended an invitation to my readers, so if you want to check out Happify for yourself, click here. And let me know what you think!