“Research shows that expressing gratitude makes you happier and healthier.”
The above phrase proudly welcomes you to Happier.com, neatly conveying the philosophy behind this new app combining a social gratitude journal with a positive community. Happier could be simply described as a thoughtful, positive spin on Twitter, but it’s truly much more than that. Designed to encourage users to express and appreciate what makes them happy in life, the app also acts as a head check for those moments when we forget what keeps us going every day.
“There is no way I can anticipate all the good things that are going to happen today.”
– Brian Narelle
The above phrase was the first thing that I saw after signing up for the app and checking out the Featured page. I was having a nothing-special day at work and it made me take a step back and think for a moment: what good things have happened today? I lost track after a dozen. Taking stock of the little things, the good things in our lives, seems like an easy thing, yet it’s just as easily forgotten. This app first and foremost helps internalize that recognition and jumpstart the feelings of gratitude that naturally springs forth.
This focus on gratitude is important.
Last Sunday, on the Oscars broadcast, Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey expressed himself in a most eloquent way. He said that he needs three things in life: someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and someone to chase. He says that he looks up to God, and in his words, “He has shown me that it is a scientific fact, that gratitude reciprocates.” Funny enough, science backs this statement up.
Research has defined gratitude as a social emotion that helps bind us to our communities and enhances relationships. Primatologists have observed behaviors that look remarkably like gratitude in chimpanzees, who are more likely to share food with peers who have recently groomed them. This begs the question: what is the physiological payoff for feeling grateful? The research suggests that you’ll feel more optimistic, better able to manage stress, and even more enthusiastic about exercise, leading to better sleep. If you don’t naturally gravitate toward expressing gratitude, there are simple fixes designed to set you on that path. One example is writing down the things that you are thankful for. Doing so on a regular basis can achieve remarkably similar benefits.
This brings us back to what Happier is all about: shaping our internal and external lives in small, gradual ways, toward a more grateful, and ultimately, happier form. The community centers around posts like you’d see on Twitter or Facebook, with a positive twist: little blurbs about what brings happiness to your life, thoughts on how to make today better by appreciating what’s already there, and advice to others on how to train yourself to actively seek out and acknowledge that which makes life worth living.
Friends – or anyone you find inspiring and interesting – will see your posts and “me too” them (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) and leave comments of encouragement and camaraderie. In turn, you can do the same for their happiness posts. The app keeps track of your milestones, encouraging you with every 5, 10, 50 moments of happiness that you share, incentivizing the process as it, internally, incentivizes your thought process toward a positive approach to experiencing life. This feedback loop of gratitude can truly work wonders for people, as evidenced just by my short time spent with the app.
The encouragement received from sharing even the tiniest bits of happiness in your day comes in the form of others seeing your moment and feeling happy themselves. Knowing that you’ve made someone smile inherently feels great. If you’re having a truly rough time and can’t think of anything to share, just browse through your friends’ experiences and something is sure to perk you up and brighten the day. When you think about it, that moment itself can be your happiness. Go ahead and share it, knowing you’re doing the same for someone else having a dark moment today!
This notion of positive feedback is the core of why Happier was created: being the social animals that we are, expressing gratitude for our lives will have others realizing what they’ve been taking for granted. This will only make us more grateful and happy for the positive emotions that we’re helping to spread. The science behind this idea backs up what we know in our hearts when we feel it: gratitude makes us happier and healthier people.
Give Happier a try at www.happier.com or download the app (currently only on Apple but coming soon to Android) for your mobile device. You’ll be wheeling through lists of positivity and brightness in no time. You don’t need the app to appreciate life’s small moments of grace, but it helps keep track of them in this fast paced world. Always remember that gratitude is not only good for you; it’s truly essential for the happiness of us all.
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