Build Your Happiness Skills with Happify

April 19, 2013


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!

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10 comments

  1. What an interesting website - I've just signed up. And thanks for the tip about being able to extend the track - I don't want to add stress either! LOL!!

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  2. I had the same feeling of AAAAH when I first started. :-) I actually had to stop for a bit before realizing that I could go at my own pace, that I was disappointing anyone or failing if I didn't do things on schedule. Now I enjoy it very much. :-)

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  3. I'll have to check that out--it sounds interesting. I never thought about genetics playing a role in how happy a person is. I always assumed it all had to do with external factors and how we internalize them. I'm curious what the activities are--anything that makes us more self-aware-and certainly that makes us happier isn't a bad thing at all! Can you share your initial happiness level? You'll have to post again as you go--I'm curious if in doing these activities you really do feel happier! :)

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  4. Cheryl--It helps to know you don't have to rush! What track did you pick?

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  5. RT--Isn't that funny that we feel like someone is watching us and evaluating what we do, even though we're just playing a few games, trying to learn how to improve our levels of happiness? No wonder I needed to cope with stress better!

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  6. Danielle--It's true--some people are more "programmed" for happiness than others. But we can all improve our happiness levels by working with tht 40%. I do plan to post more about it, and there will also be posts "inspired by" Happify activities.

    The happiness levels are listed as numbers out of 100 (I think). Mine is 67 right now ("you're getting there") and I'm due for another evaluation.

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  7. Very intriguing, Kathy. I will check it out, but probably won't sign up for awhile; too many new things are hitting me at once.

    I would probably feel pressured like you did at first. How neat that they asked for your help in being one of the first to try it out though.

    Hope that you are having a great weekend,

    Kathy M.

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  8. Kathy--Yes, you have your hands full right now! Thanks for the weekend wishes--hope yours is restful, relaxing and filled with happiness.

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  9. I remember I used to get so much pleasure and happiness by making a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread. Learning something new and having someone to share things like that with also bring happiness. Your blog does too. While you are striving for happiness, peace or whatever you remind us to pay attention too. I haven't been reading too many blogs lately but I should read my favorites as they add some of that happiness to my life. I'll go take a peek at this site now.

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  10. Timaree--The smallest of things often make us the happiest. Happify tries to help us be more aware of those small things, even plan for them. And thank you for saying my blog brings happiness--that made my day!

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