There are so many happiness apps these days it's hard to keep them all straight. So how do you know which happiness apps are the best? Well, some happiness apps are based on the latest scientific research and are created with the expertise of experts in the science of happiness. Below, I review four of the top science-based happiness apps to reveal their strengths and weaknesses and help you decide which is the right app for you.
Happify translates the science of happiness into online activities that can be completed right from your phone or computer. With the advice of a variety of happiness experts, Happify has created a platform to engage in writing activities and games designed to increase happiness.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. created Just One Minute to translate the neuroscience of happiness into an effective happiness app. Based on activities from his popular book, Just One Thing, Dr. Hanson has made it easier than ever to practice the activities he has spent his career building.
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (who I often work with) has developed a platform called Greater Good in Action to help people engage in science-based practices for a meaningful life. The practices, which are drawn from research in positive psychology, clinical science, and elsewhere walk you step-by-step through activities to that enhance skills like empathy, gratitude, and mindfulness.
Super Better has gamified the process of building happiness by creating short easy activities that you complete as you go on quests to build happiness-boosting skills like resilience. The activities provide you with quick wins to jump-start your happiness journey.
Although there are lots of ways to compare and contrast happiness apps, one way is to look at each app's features and select the happiness app that seems like best fit for you.
There is research to suggest that a greater variety of activities in a happiness program results in greater impact on your happiness. All of the apps reviewed here have adequate variety.
All of the happiness apps had some form of user dashboard. However, I found the Just One Minute dashboard to be the easiest to understand and navigate.
All of these apps have a way for you to track the activities that you have completed. Happify and Just One Minute also let you go back and read responses you wrote down in the written activities. What none of these apps had, however, was a way to track your progress improving your happiness and well-being.
These apps all had some kind of interactive activities. Some include audio, some have you complete activities on your computer or phone, some are written, and others are games. Happify appeared to have the greatest selection of interactive activities.
Happify was the only app that had an onboarding quiz, but it was unclear what the purpose of this quiz is. Your responses to the quiz don't appear to affect which tracks you can choose from or your other experiences on the website. So the onboarding quiz may be more of a nuisance than a benefit at this point.
Although some of the other happiness apps say that there is a forum, Happify was the only app that seemed to have a functioning forum at the time of my review.
Just One Minute has a great feature where you can set what days and times you want to get reminders. While the other happiness apps send you automated reminders, I personally liked this feature as I could chose to get reminders at a time when I am free.
"Share Your Successes" Tool
Although all the happiness apps allow you to share the activities on social media, Just One Minute was the only app that tailored that message specifically to focus on completion of the activity - to celebrate your success. This was a nice touch.
All of these apps focus on general skills derived from mainly from the science of happiness. None of them include activities to help you manage specific challenges, like stress at work. However, Greater Good in Action has a few activities that help you manage challenges in romantic relationships or parenting in ways that boost happiness in children.
All of the reviewed happiness apps had different strengths and weaknesses. Which one is the best? You'll have to decide for yourself.
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To supplement these happiness apps, you can also get free happiness activities sent right to your email or learn more at berkeleywellbeing.com.