Does your everyday routine stress you out? Do you happen to feel frustrated, angry or depressed? In recent years, a slew of apps have sprung up to target the millions of users who feel their lives could be just that little bit more happy. Now an Israeli team has developed yet another cool app that trains your brain to think positively and become happier.
Following the STAGE model, which stands for Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize, the Happify app first asks you to insert basic information like gender, age, occupation, as well as your ability to cope with hardships and your level of life satisfaction. Then, the app creates a personalized “track” for you to follow, which it says will lead to a higher level happiness.
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The tracks range from “find more ‘me’ time”, to “cope better with stress,” and “mindfulness for beginners.” Each track consists of a series of games, such as “Uplift,” where you get points for clicking on positive words, and lose points when selecting negative emotions. Also available are exercises like “Today’s Victories,” where you list the highlights of your day and how they positively affected you.
These activities are all aimed at boosting users’ optimism and helping them focus on positive emotions. The app’s creators claim that completing the different activities can help you release tension and relax, and allow you to just stop for a minute and think of the moments you spent with others, encouraging the development of compassion and kindness.
“What happens is, you develop these habits to become more aware, to become more grateful, to really focus on what drives you,” Happify co-founder Ofer Leidner recently told the New Yorker. He noted that every exercise proposed by the app includes a section dedicated to the scientific explanation of why such activity works.
According to Happify, these are all key steps in the educational process to become a happier individual who leads a more fulfilling, meaningful life. In their opinion, happiness is something that can be taught – a habit that our brain can be trained to maintain. The founders also claim that 86 percent of the app’s users become happier within two months.
100,000 users – and counting
The project was developed in New York by two Tel Aviv University alumni, Leidner and Tomer Ben-Kiki, together with entrepreneur Andy Parsons. The startup includes a team of six, assisted by an advisory board of four scientific advisers, three medical practitioners and five strategic advisers, mainly psychologists, neuroscientists, life coaches and business experts. Currently, Happify has 100,000 users.
The games and exercises proposed by the app were developed by experts in gaming with collaboration from experts in positive psychology, a discipline that focuses on personal growth and self-improvement with the aim of achieving a better quality of life. This branch of psychology has gained immense popularity thanks to Israeli researcher Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a former lecturer at Harvard and a professor at IDC Herzliya.
Entering a crowded arena
Founded in 2011, Happify has so far raised nearly $12 million from Bridge Builders Collaborative, Mangrove Capital Partners and other investors. The hefty investment could possibly go toward competing with a growing number of applications in this arena: Happier, MoodKit and Happy Habits.
Can your smartphone become your shrink?
Testing the app, NoCamels found that the track “overcome negative thoughts,” actually helped us focus on the positive aspects of life through exercises. However, a few minutes spent playing over a couple of days will not necessarily make you happier; only time will tell whether or not our positive thinking will increase in the long run. According to Happify, most users become happier after a couple of months.
Despite the buzz surrounding the app, some critics doubt that positive thinking and psychological wellbeing can actually be taught through smartphones. Still, you might want to give it a try – the app is free, fun to use and available both for iOS and Android. Plus, it’ll take you away from your Candy Crush addiction and force you to take a deeper look into yourself!