Type in the word “happiness” on iTunes.com and you’ll discover a long list of apps on this topic. There are two interesting apps developed based on positive psychology research: Live Happy and Gratitude Journal.
Live Happy by Signal Patterns
Based on the research of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the book The How of Happiness and professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, this app was developed to include information, in both text and video format, that can help you better understand what is known and proven about the attainment of happiness as well as features that encourage you to engage in happiness-enhancing activities.
The application lets you choose from several different activities, tells you what to do, and tells you why and how this particular activity promotes happiness. There are 6 groups of activities:
- Savor activities include creating an album of beautiful pictures to look at, or happy memories to relive.
- Social activities aim to nurture relationship by making time to connect with people and keeping a kindness journal.
- Strive activities include setting goals in different areas of your life, rating and prioritizing these goals.
- Thank activities include expressing gratitude to people in your life, and keeping a gratitude journal
- Optimism includes envisioning your ‘best possible self’
- Explore section provides you with lots of information about positive psychology and the science of happiness.
If you take the survey and provide personal information to build your profile, the app can find the more effective activities tailored to your preferences. You can pose questions to the expert (Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky), and answers appear in a long scroll (as a suggestion, it would have been nice to see the time stamp so we know which are the newest replies).
What do I love about this app? The sharing function – take a photo of your savoring moment, write down what is special about this moment, and your savoring moment can be stored in an album or shared with your friends on facebook or twitter in an instant.
At $9.99 this app is considered pricey but in terms of value (educational, comprehensive list of happiness-enhancing activities backed by solid research, huge amount of information and resources), you definitely get your money’s worth. However, it feels to me like a serious app for people who are serious about positive psychology. I wonder how it will come across to people who know nothing about positive psychology. Making it more fun to use will help reduce the sense of “I know these activities are good for me but I am not having much fun doing them.”
(Note about location: Unfortunately, I had no luck in watching the videos. They hang after a few seconds of play. The slow video buffering might have something to do with my location, Hong Kong. They might work better in the U.S.)
Gratitude Journal by Happier.com
This free simple application gives you the opportunity to create your gratitude journal by recording three things that you’re grateful for on a daily basis and measure your overall happiness over time.
I suggest you start with the introduction video by Dr. Martin Seligman which sets the context for focusing on the good things in life. After recording three good things, move on to “measure your happiness” to answer 24 multiple choice questions about how you’re feeling for the day. Do it on a regular basis and you’ll see a chart of your overall happiness. The following three images take you through the application: record three good things, take the survey, and view the results (or you can watch a demo video on youtube).
What do I love about this app? Counting one’s blessings is a proven intervention for increasing one’s happiness. This simple app gives you a chance to recognize and amplify the good things in your life, feel positive about them, and experience gratitude for the situation and the people who are helping to make them possible.
Both iPhone Apps
Several positive psychologists have said,“there is no short-cut to happiness,” and this is how I feel after using these two apps. You need to use them regularly, make it habitual, and only then will you start to notice the improvement.
Try these apps yourself if you are an iPhone user. More users and feedback will help the developers improve their apps. Mobile technology is now an integral part of our lives and I certainly hope to see more happiness-boosting activities built around modern communication technology.
Happier.com by Reflexive Learning, LLC and Live Happy by Signal Patterns