Can we really change our level of “happiness”? Is happiness something you can measure, chart and increase? According to current science, we can. In the last few years scientists have been able to locate the parts of the brain that cause depression and happiness. By “exercising” the parts of the brain that make us happy, we can indeed increase our happiness! And Happify has set out to do just that.
A few months ago I was asked to be a Happify Pioneer and try out the site before it went public. What is Happify? Happify is a website dedicated to sharing the science of happiness. I was willing to give it a try. Why not? I can’t say I was expecting much to change. First of all, I didn’t particularly feel the need to “increase my happiness” and second, I wasn’t sure playing a few games on the computer could accomplish this anyway.
In the nitty-gritty Happify is a website with games and activities designed to increase your happiness. Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? The games range from The Mindfulness Game where you are given a picture and need to find a certain number of hidden items, to “recording a moment” that made you happy that day, to “anticipating and savoring” an upcoming event or “finding a way to make another person smile”.
So does all this actually work? Does it increase happiness? After each activity is completed on Happify, you can click on a tab labeled “why it works” which explains the science behind how that particular activity increases personal happiness.
Science aside, what about my personal experience with Happify?
Guess what? It works. The simple act of going on the website for five to ten minutes three or four times a week has changed how I view my life and the things around me. I find myself noticing little things and savoring them even more. While on my walk/run recently I noticed myself consciously observing the blue sky and thinking to myself how very thankful I was for the mild weather that allowed me run in the dead of winter. Almost taking a mental picture of the moment. I find myself consciously anticipating upcoming events (even small ones) and savoring them while I am there. All of this leads to constantly appreciating and being satisfied with the small (and large things) around me and I find it does lead to me “feeling” happier.
As I discussed this with my children, Adalia pointed out that it makes me more thoughtful by making me stop and think about ways to make people smile. Hmmm…she was absolutely right.
In one sense, Happify is a bit like Facebook. You can follow people and like posts. But unlike Facebook, it is not filled with drama and negativity. You are not going to read about what someone had for lunch, unless, that is, they are pausing to appreciate and savor the moment. In our Happify community we share photos and stories. On the Happify Pioneer Facebook page I was recently able to share the great news about Apollo’s swallow study. I was almost immediately surrounded my encouraging feedback. People who rejoiced with me in my moment of happiness. And you know what? It felt good.
It reminds me of years ago when I was first married. I determined not to surround myself with ladies who bad-mouthed their husbands. I could see, as a newlywed, how detrimental that could be to a marriage. Why sit around complaining about our spouses and “one-upping” each other with stories of “mistreatment”? I vowed never to do that, and I have continued that practice for seventeen years. Happify is a bit like that. No one is pretending their lives are perfect and filled with nothing but sunshine and rainbows. We are just a community of regular people who are choosing to focus on the positives in our life.
So has Happify made me a happier person? Honestly, I’d have to say, yes, it has.
Check out Happify and let me know what you think!