Hooked by these fabulous, science-based happiness infographics (I’ll pop one at the bottom of the post – too much scrolling otherwise!), I’ve started using Happify, an online service full of activities and prompts to help lift mood and build happiness in your life.
A couple of weeks in and I’m a fan. As you know, I’m a sucker for science. Happify uses good research on what make people happy, to create a suite of games, quizzes, challenges, prompts and even guided meditations.
So Uplift is a game where you keep hot-air balloons afloat by clicking on positive words and ignoring the negative ones that will make the balloons sink.
You choose a specific track – from dozens of choices – to suit your situation, whether you want to focus on improving a relationship, building happiness with children, address anxiety or achieve a goal at work.
Happify regularly asks you to do a short happiness assessment, so you (and they) can track your progress. They say their research shows that people who visit the site 2-3 times a week see better improvements than others, and that sounds convincing to me.
It’s free to use, though you get a more substantial service if you pay for a premium membership. I’m finding it a useful thing to have in my life and may yet upgrade, but so far don’t feel any need to – I get plenty out of it as it is.
You can treat it a bit like a wholly-encouraging social media community if you like, or keep all your activity entirely private (as I do).
There’s a huge advantage, for someone like me, of having an automated, attractive online hub for my mental health. Of course I know the value of guided meditations for wellbeing, but do I ever do them? Pretty much never. However, if Happify invites me to do one and I need to do it to unlock the next activities, well, sure, fine, I’ll watch a lovely waterfall for two minutes and practise some relaxation breathing. And feel a bit better for it.
They’re just so positive at Happify, too. They congratulate me every time I complete an activity and offer me medals after every eight! It’s all very pleasant.
It’s not all marshmallows and beach sunsets, though. One challenge was to think of a time a person close to me hurt or disappointed me. Happify asked me to write about it (brief is fine) and consider what might have been going on for the other person to make them behave that way, and whether they meant to be hurtful. My next challenge is to choose someone important in my life and plan to spend time with them. I’ll only get the tick (and access to the next activities) when I’ve actually done it.
My mood is fragile at the best of times these days, and it’s an important part of my survival to attend to a variety of different things to build resilience. I need to eat well, sleep, exercise, and so on. Because I spend a lot of time online, having a prompt, right at my computer, to do small things that will make me feel better, is turning out to be valuable and effective. It takes so little effort to click on the Happify tab of my browser and follow instructions.
I should probably say explicitly here that no one’s paying me to say all this! I don’t do promotional posts, and I’m telling you about this because I like resourcing people. So do check it out if it sounds at all appealing. Ten minutes every day or two, when you’re already online. For free. What’s not to like?
If you’d like to read more about my experience with postnatal depression, the How It Is series is here, and the first post is here.
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