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Happify wants to help you be happier, using science

See how happy this guy is? Be more like him.

Above: See how happy this guy is? Be more like him.

Image Credit: Happify Facebook

Most people want to be happy, but sometimes life gets in the way.

Happify wants to help you live a happier life, using science.

The startup launched publicly today after amassing 100,000 members during private beta, and it revealed $3.8 million in funding.

“Happify is the first site to translate the science of why we’re happy to actionable measures,” cofounder and CEO Tomer Ben-Kiki told VentureBeat. “Technology has been linked to increased stress and Facebook has been linked to depression. In a world where we are more connected, more stressed, and overworked, Happify uses tools we are used to, like technology, games, and interactive activities, to teach us to deal with stress, be more satisfied with life, and appreciate relationships.”

Happiness is subjective and difficult to define, but research shows that it is fundamentally a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis. This allows for fluctuations in moods — being happy is not smiling and having energy all the time. Those people are annoying.

Rather, happiness is a state of being that we as individuals have control over, and we can form habits to sustain and nourish that mindset.

Happify designed activities, exercises, and games based on research from psychologists and neuroscientists at leading institutions around the world, including UPenn, Harvard, and Stanford. Its framework aims to teach you skills for finding greater peace of mind, and feeling more engaged, motivated, and excited.

The app also recommends daily activities based on your preferences and goals.

It is kind of like Lumosity, but for emotional health.

Ben-Kiki said people do 250 million Google searches for happiness-related topics a year, and there are over 23,000 books about happiness on Amazon.

Factors like meaningful relationships, a fulfilling job, and financial stability, of course, contribute to happiness, but there are also complicated brain functions at work too. No matter how madly in love you are or how comfortable your lifestyle, niggling anxieties, guilt-trips, insecurities, and self-defeating behaviors can get in the way.

Happify’s exercises are designed to develop happiness skills: savor, thank, aspire, give, and emphasize. These skills can help people cope with stress more effectively, be kinder to themselves, feel more optimistic, strengthen their relationships, and build confidence.

Tasks include playing a “savoring” game or documenting a grateful moment.

Sure it may seem a little new-age hippy-dippy, but Ben-Kiki said it really works. The company claims 86% of members get happier in two months and feel increases in positive emotions and life satisfaction.

You can actually train yourself to be happier, just like you can train yourself to run further or remember more. So turn down the Nirvana, put away the Ben & Jerry’s, and work on appreciating what you have.

Ben-Kiki founded Happify in 2012 with Ofer Leidner and Andy Parsons. They learned about positive psychology — the scientific study of what makes people thrive and lead meaningful lives — and saw an opportunity to bring this knowledge to a wider audience, particularly those who may be hesitant to stroll around the self-help section or seek therapy.

The New York City startup is backed by Founder Collective and b.to.v.

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