Happiness. There’s an app for that. – A Review

Bill Del-Sette |

Positive Psychology is the name given to that branch of psychology that focuses on the keys to happiness instead of focusing on what makes people sad or depressed like traditional psychology. Research has found that certain activities tend to boost happiness much more than others, and as much as 40% of happiness can be controlled by you, as opposed to being preprogrammed by nature like a thermostat.

Keeping a gratitude journal, practicing acts of kindness, and striving to complete goals all have been shown to increase your level of happiness. However, if you don’t have a reminder system, it’s easy to forget to do the things that help lead to happiness on a daily basis. Knowing what to do does no good if you don’t act on the advice. Think dieting and exercise. Keeping a planning /reminder tool close at hand is a good way to keep happiness activities or any other positive activity top of mind. If certain activities become a part of your daily routine, your chances of having lasting happiness increase.

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.”

— George Carlin

Signal Patterns SP Labs and Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the book The How of Happiness have developed a “happiness app” for your iPhone® called Live Happy. This app makes it easier to perform the activities that have shown to increase happiness because it is an entire system based upon the research that is right at your fingertips. Now you can perform these activities wherever you are!

Recently, I took this app for a test drive. After installing the app on my iPhone, I watched the short video by Dr. Lyubomirsky that starts when you open the app. Next, you are presented with icons for 6 activities:

  • Savor – this encourages you remember happy days by either taking real photographs or “mental photographs “of the days you were happiest. What were you doing? Who were you with? Then, you can replay those days in your mind. Or, you can take and store photos right in the app. For example, I took a photo on my IPhone of me and the dogs out for a hike on a beautiful day, and I go back to that moment often.
  • Social – This part of the program encourages you to do acts of kindness and nurture relationships. You can write acts of kindness you have performed, and it also encourages you to reach out to people you may not have talked to in a while. For instance, I reached out to my sister, who I have not talked to in a while, and it felt good to catch up.
  • Best Possible Self – This module encourages you to spend time thinking about what your life to be like a few years from now, and encourages optimistic thinking. I wrote about my retirement goals and being at a higher level in my photography.
  • Thank – Writing what you are grateful for in a gratitude journal every day help you to think about what you are happy about instead of what you are sad about. The app also encourages you to reach out to be people who have helped along the way. For this exercise, I reached out to my neighbor, who spent a day brush hogging a portion of my land recently and told him how much we appreciated him doing that.
  • Strive – This section of the app encourages you to set meaningful goals that are achievable and in harmony with your value system. For me, I set a goal to have a photo published within 3 years.

The app is easy to use, and the interface is easy to navigate. I’ve been using the app for about a month now, and whenever I am in a waiting room or have a spare few minutes, I find myself performing some of the exercises in the app. Whenever I spend even a few minutes a day on the exercises, I really do find myself in a better mood. I find the gratitude journal extremely helpful. I recommend giving it a try. Just remember to perform the exercises once a day, which is easy because the app resides on your smart phone!

Smartphone Apps and Websites Dealing with Happiness:

  • Live Happy™ – A Happiness Boosting Positive Psychology Program
  • Track Your Happiness.org is a new scientific research project that investigates what makes life worth living.
    • Using this site, you’ll be able to track your happiness and find out what factors – for you personally – are associated with greater happiness. You’ll also contribute to our scientific understanding of happiness.
  • Stress Free is Deepak Chopra’s first mobile program. The program takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to eliminating daily stress using exercises for the mind, body and soul.