In this issue, we get deeper into the fundamentals of sleep. It seems the our well-being starts here and there are important facts and practices that each of us should be familiar with. The article on sleep can be found in the Members area on the bottom left (in a separate box).
In addition, we review the scientific research on 5-HTP, an amino acid that regulates the production of serotonin and provides a wide variety of benefits for our health when taken as a supplement.
Finally, we summarize the positive effects of mantras and chanting, including messages to ourselves and structuring our internal dialogue.
The amino acid 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
5-HTP is great because it also can increase melatonin levels by 200%.
When taken correctly, 5-HTP turns right into serotonin. To put it another way, using 5-HTP is like pouring gasoline straight into your tank. There’s no need for an additive when you can simply replace your serotonin stores any time you get low. It may take months to get well, but once you start consistently going into deep, restorative sleep, you’ll feel better than you’ve felt in years.
BENEFITS OF 5-HTP
Although much more research is needed and experiments show mixed results, there is evidence that 5-HTP can be effective in treating a wide range of health problems:
Carefully controlled tests have shown that patients with FMS were able to see the following benefits from taking 5-HTP:
• Decreased pain
• Improved sleep
• Fewer tender points
• Less morning stiffness
• Less anxiety
• Improved moods in general, including in those with
• Increased energy
Studies comparing 5-HTP to prescription antidepressants show 5-HTP to be as effective or more effective than prescription medications. Furthermore, 5-HTP doesn’t have some of the more troubling side effects associated with prescription medications. One conclusion was that a natural pain-blocking effect occurred when serotonin and norepinephrine levels were enhanced in the brain. More norepinephrine means more energy and improved mood.
Dosing: Most commonly, 150-800 mg daily is taken for 2-6 weeks. These doses are sometimes divided up and administered as 50 mg to 100 mg three times a day. Sometimes the dose starts out low and steadily increases every 1-2 weeks until a target dose is reached. In one study, the dose is steadily increased up to 3 grams per day.
Anxiety and OCD
Early research shows that taking 25-150 mg of 5-HTP by mouth daily
along with carbidopa seems to reduce anxiety symptoms in people with
anxiety disorders. But other early research shows that taking higher doses of
5-HTP, 225 mg daily or more, seems to make anxiety worse.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) is a type of anxiety
marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors.
Early research shows that taking 5-HTP with the antidepressant drug fluoxetine
(Prozac) for 12 weeks may improve some symptoms of OCD.
Although the evidence is mixed, some studies show that
5-HTP can be used to successfully treat and prevent chronic
headaches of various types, including migraines, and tension headaches.
Weight loss and Obesity
Early research suggests that taking 5-HTP might help reduce appetite,
caloric intake, and weight in people who are obese. Other research suggests
that using a specific mouth spray containing 5-HTP and other extracts for
4 weeks increases weight loss by about 41% in overweight postmenopausal adults.
5-HTP has been shown to be beneficial in treating insomnia, especially in improving sleep quality by increasing deep sleep.
Steps to Sleeping Soundly
One reason for poor sleep is if you have low levels of serotonin. If you’re not sure if you’re low in serotonin, take the “Brain Function Questionnaire" to find out.
You can find it at: www.yourfibrodoctor.com/brain-function
If you do not suffer from low serotonin states, simply use melatonin supplements.
How to take 5-HTP for better sleep
Take 5-HTP on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before bed, with four ounces of grape juice. This allows it to get past the blood-brain barrier and be absorbed directly into the brain. 5-HTP will never leave you feeling dopey, drugged, or hung over. If you need to wake up in the middle of the night, you can. You should be able to go right back to sleep.
One of three things will happen when taking 5-HTP
with a beginning dose of 50mg:
You will fall asleep within 30 minutes and sleep through the night.
If this is the case, stay on this dose. After a few days, if you start
to have problems with sleep again, increase your dose of 5-HTP
as described below.
Nothing happens. This is the typical response to such a low dose. Continue to add 50 mg each night (up to a maximum of 300 mg) until you fall asleep within 30 minutes and sleep through the night. You should stay at the minimum dose needed for deep sleep (up to a maximum of 300 mg per night). For example, let’s say you take 50 mg of 5-HTP 30 minutes before bed on an empty stomach with four ounces of grape juice but don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes or don’t sleep through the night. If this happens, add an additional 50 mg for a total of 100 mg of 5-HTP. Take as directed above. If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes or don’t sleep through the night (7-8 hours of sleep), add an additional 50 mg for a total of 150 mg. Keep increasing as needed up to 300 mg or until you fall asleep within 30 minutes and sleep through the night.
The dose makes you more alert. This occurs more often in CFS patients and is due to a sluggish liver. If this happens, don’t take 5-HTP at bedtime. Instead, take 50 mg with food for one to two days. Taking 5-HTP with food will slow it down and allow the liver to process it like any other food. Taking 5-HTP with food will usually not make you sleepy. If after one to two days you have no further problems with 5-HTP, you should increase to 100 mg of 5-HTP with each meal (up to 300 mg a day).
Taking 5-HTP with food will help raise your serotonin and normalize your sleep/wake cycles. It may take a little longer to see positive results when taking 5-HTP with food (one to two weeks), but don’t worry. You will eventually build up your serotonin stores and start to see an improvement in your sleep, pain, moods, any IBS issues, and energy.
Remember, serotonin increases deep sleep by increasing melatonin levels by 200 percent.
Don’t Take Tryptophan — Take 5-HTP
Tryptophan is one of eight essential amino acids or “building blocks” in your body. Tryptophan is absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream and then dispersed throughout the body. 90% of tryptophan is used for protein synthesis, 1% is converted to serotonin, and the rest is used to make niacin. In the formation of serotonin, tryptophan is hydroxylated to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
There has been some recent bad press about 5-HTP and a contaminant. Known as “Peak X”, this contaminant is a potentially hazardous toxin that was found in several batches of tryptophan back in the early 1980s. This led to the FDA banning the amino acid tryptophan from being purchased over the counter until recently.
Tryptophan is derived from bacteria, and this is where the potential contamination can occur. This is really not a concern when using reliable, high-quality vendors. Some people take tryptophan in order to increase serotonin levels. But 5-HTP, a derivative of tryptophan, is a better choice for several reasons:
First, 5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and is readily absorbed into the brain where it turns into serotonin. Second, tryptophan has to turn into 5-HTP first before turning into serotonin. Unlike 5-HTP, only a fraction of tryptophan can be absorbed into the brain.
Third, 5-HTP comes from a plant native to Africa (Griffonia simplicifolia), and therefore doesn’t have the risk associated with bacteria-derived tryptophan.
For depression, 200–300 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily.
For fibromyalgia, 100 milligrams has been taken by mouth three times daily.
For headache, 300–600 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily in divided doses.
For hot flashes, 150 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily for four weeks.
For mood, 50 milligrams has been taken by mouth in two separate doses.
For obesity, 8 milligrams per kilogram of body weight or 750–900 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily.
For psychiatric disorders, 25–350 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily for anxiety.
You can boost your dietary intake of L-tryptophan, which the body converts to 5-HTP. Food sources include turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds, spinach, milk, and bananas.
5-HTP can be safely taken with most prescription medications. Do not take 5-HTP if you’re taking other medications that increase serotonin levels, such as antidepressants like SSRIs and MAO inhibitors. Medications for depression include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil), Sertraline (Zoloft), Amitriptyline (Elavil), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Imipramine (Tofranil), as well as others drugs that increase serotonin such as Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM), Pentazocine (Talwin), Tramadol (Ultram), Meperidine (Demerol) and Carbidopa (a medication for Parkinson’s disease).
5-HTP is not recommended for people with Down syndrome, as it has been linked to seizures. Also, do not take 5-HTP less than two weeks before surgery as it may interfere with some drugs commonly used during surgical procedures.
Discontinue use and consult a doctor right away if you experience:
Too much 5-HTP in your body can cause a spike in serotonin levels, resulting in side effects such as: anxiety, shivering, heart problems. 5-HTP is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in large doses over 6 grams daily. This has been linked to severe stomach problems and muscle spasms.
Surgery: 5-HTP can affects serotonin production. Some drugs administered during surgery can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP before surgery might cause too much serotonin in the brain and can result in serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. You should stop taking 5-HTP at least 2 weeks before surgery.
As with any supplement, be sure to check with your doctor before starting something new.
Mantras are positive words or phrases. They can be repeated silent or vocal, done either individually or in a group. When you chant mantras, you calm the mind and decrease negative thoughts or stress. Although research on mantras is scant, scientific studies have found that chanting mantras like OM for 10 minutes can decrease anxiety and symptoms of depression.
The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words—manas (mind) and tra (tool). Mantra literally means “a tool for the mind,” and was designed to help practitioners access a higher power and their true nature. “Mantra is a sound vibration through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intention.”
Mantra has deep roots in every major spiritual tradition and can be found in many languages, including Hindi, Hebrew, Latin, and English. For example, a popular mantra for Christians is simply the name Jesus, while Catholics commonly repeat the Hail Mary prayer or Ave Maria. Many Jews recite Barukh atah Adonai (“Blessed art thou, oh Lord”); while Muslims repeat the name Allah like a mantra.
Contemporary psychology defines mantra as a mind-body practice that can activate the relaxation response of the body and put us in a state of heart coherence and intense positive emotion. Mantras contain elements of mindfulness, gratitude, and self-compassion, which makes them ideal for use in combination with other practices from those modules (which we covered in previous issues).
Unlike a prayer — which channels a hope at some imagined entity capable of interceding in favor of that hope and has only as a side benefit (though arguably its only real and robust benefit) the psychological self-clarification that comes from honing our hopes in language — a mantra is not addressed at anything or anyone external and is entirely devoted to distilling the object of hope to its clearest essence. This, in and of itself, transforms the hope into an intent, making it more actionable. A mantra is therefore not a form of magical thinking, for while there is a sense of magic to how such distillation seems to shift the situation by its very utterance, it is an entirely practical sort of magic, for a mantra simply clarifies, concentrates, and consecrates intent, and all meaningful transformation springs from purposeful, devoted intent.
A mantra is a kind of formula that, once uttered, can entirely change a situation. It can change us, and it can change others. But this formula must be spoken in concentration, with body and mind focused as one. What you say in this state of being becomes a mantra.
American Hindu Priest Thomas Ashley-Farrand suggests that mantras
have the power to replace unhealthy patterns with positive ones by
promoting patience and giving one the ability to see a situation more clearly.
While mantra recitation is an internal practice that need not have an audible sound,
chant is what we do when we practice aloud with others. It is not only for the
benefit of oneself, but for the benefit of all beings.
Mantras have many psychological benefits. They can improve attention and change
your mood. They help increase your ability of concentration and focus your attention
on a single task.
• The rhythm & sound is thought to move energy throughout the body.
• Helps release feel good chemicals (e.g., endorphins).
• Helps regulate (and slow) the heart rate.
• Works to enhance the brainwaves of meditation: alpha, theta, and delta.
• Lowers blood pressure.
• Relieves stress.
• Boosts immunity.
• Quiets mind chatter, fear.
• Boosts positive thinking.
• Reprograms the subconscious mind.
Chanting with concentration enables us to reduce the adrenaline and cortisol associated with high level of stress. Besides this, chanting has a significant impact on improving the efficiency of the spinal cord. It not only improves concentration but also strengthens the control on reacting to emotions, and at the same time, helps with detoxification. Chanting along with a constant deep breathing improves blood circulation by providing more oxygen to the body thus restoring youthfulness both externally and internally. Moreover, other health benefits include filtering out negativity, and getting enough sleep.
Neuroscientists, equipped with advanced brain-imaging tools, are beginning to quantify and confirm some of the health benefits of this ancient practice, such as its ability to help free your mind of background chatter and calm your nervous system. In one study recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, researchers from Linköping University, in Sweden, measured activity in a region of the brain called the “default mode network”—the area that’s active during self-reflection and mind wandering—to determine how practicing mantra meditation affects the brain. From a mental health perspective, an overactive default mode network can mean that the brain is distracted—not calmed or centered.
The subjects’ default mode networks were more suppressed during the mantra meditation than during a finger-tapping exercise—and suppression grew as mantra training increased. “The study suggests that mantra training can effectively reduce [default mode network] related distractions,” says Rozalyn Simon, PhD, who authored the study.
Research findings such as these do not profess to prove that mantra is a life-saving technique. But when we are beholden to our discursive mind, we can easily be led down the path to negative headspace—further away from our true, relaxed nature. In fact, research suggests that it doesn’t matter whether you recite an ancient Sanskrit mantra such as Sat nam, or the Lord’s Prayer, or any sound, word, or phrase—as long as you repeat something with focused attention, you’ll get results.
Dr. Herbert Benson, the Harvard professor who found the relaxation response (reviewed in an earlier issue of the Newsletter) has experimented with subjects repeating Sanskrit mantras as well as nonreligious words, such as “one”. He’s found that regardless of what the practitioner repeats, the word or phrase has nearly the same effects: relaxation and the ability to better cope with life’s unexpected stressors.
More recently, scientists at several universities and institutes have applied modern brain-imaging tools to reach roughly the same conclusions as Benson. A 2015 study from researchers in Israel found that people who silently repeated the word echad (“one” in Hebrew) experienced a quieting of the mind, particularly a deactivation of the typically active default mode network in the brain. “When people said ‘one, one, one,’ everything that had been active during the resting state in the default mode network was shut down,” says Aviva Berkovich-Ohana, a neuroscientist in the Department of Education at the University of Haifa. “Subjects reported that it was relaxing and that they had fewer thoughts.”
Mantra meditation, in particular transcendental meditation, has also been linked with a decrease in intrusive thoughts, and an increase in meaning and quality of life in HIV patients. It has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety and anger and increases in quality of life in nurses. Another study on veterans found that mantra meditation reduces the occurrence of intrusive thoughts and minimizes stress as well. Many people find that mantra meditation is simpler to master when they are starting out because it provides an empowering focal point; many people find it difficult to keep redirecting their thoughts to the present moment and instead feel that it is easier to have something more specific to grasp onto.
Chanting has also been tested for potential benefits. Several scientific studies have been conducted to observe the meditative effects on the body. The benefits of chanting have been observed in the form of improved pulmonary function, increased mental alertness, increased environmental awareness and potential relief from depression and stress. Another study has postulated that chanting mantras can enlighten and purify the heart, mind, and body, make oneself and others happier and healthier, spreads compassion, love, forgiveness and most importantly uplift the spiritual standing.
HOW TO PRACTICE MANTRA
The bottom line is, with mantra, you may feel less stressed after one session. With repeated practice, you may find yourself less reactive to future stress. Practicing mantra is easy.
Mantra and meditation teachers recommend to begin by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position and silently repeat the mantra, once on the inhalation, once on the exhalation. Don’t fixate on it (you’ll know if your brow starts furrowing). When thoughts or feelings enter your mind, try to simply notice them, and then return to silently reciting the mantra. See if you can set aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to practice. Several traditions suggest staying with one mantra for several months before switching to another, in order to deepen your practice and cultivate a sense of ease, presence, and peace.
Consistency is key regardless of your chosen mantra. According to a mantra scholar, “You enliven a mantra through regular practice over a period of time—months or even years. It’s a bit like rubbing a flint against a stone to strike fire. The friction of the syllables inside your consciousness, the focus of bringing yourself back to the mantra again and again, and especially the attention you give to the felt sense of the mantra’s resonance inside your awareness will eventually open the energy in the mantra, and it will stop being just words and become a living energy that you’ll feel shifting your inner state.”
Set Aside a Few Minutes and Get Into a Comfortable Position
At first, it's best to have a quiet room, free of distractions. With repeated practice,
you may find yourself able to practice mantra meditation anywhere and under more
Choose a Mantra for Meditation
A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself out loud or silently.
It can be a more classically significant spiritual word like the Hindu, 'Aum' (aka Om)
or it can be a word or phrase like, 'Calm' or 'I am at peace.' The words or sounds you
choose aren't important as long as they are simple and comfortable for you to repeat.
Close Your Eyes and Repeat Your Mantra to Yourself
As you do so, try to focus only on the sound and feel of your mantra and nothing else. If you find other thoughts creeping into your head, thank yourself for noticing, and gently redirect your attention to your mantra.
Continue for Several Minutes
That's it. Just continue to repeat your mantra and focus on the sound and the way it feels to make the sound. Redirect your attention away from distractions, and back to your mantra. You can start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and work up to 20 or 30; with mantra meditation, any practice time is better than none.
Consistency is key regardless of your chosen mantra. According to a mantra scholar, “You enliven a mantra through regular practice over a period of time—months or even years. It’s a bit like rubbing a flint against a stone to strike fire. The friction of the syllables inside your consciousness, the focus of bringing yourself back to the mantra again and again, and especially the attention you give to the felt sense of the mantra’s resonance inside your awareness will eventually open the energy in the mantra, and it will stop being just words and become a living energy that you’ll feel shifting your inner state.”
What Are Some Effective Mantras?
• I am full of light.
• "Ham-Sah" — Translation: "I that I am."
• I am kind to myself.
• "HU"— In Sufism, a highly sacred word meaning "God."
• I am my own healing power.
• I attract prosperity.
• "Om Mani Padme" — A Tibetan mantra with a very deep, very complex meaning.
• I am grateful for everything in my life.
• I am a magnet for all that is good.
• Aham-Prema — Translation: "I am divine love."
• "Om" or "Aum" — Multiple meanings across multiple religions. The most popular
Here are a few classic Hindu mantras for beginners.
Here is a mantra called “Mantra for Reaching Out to Ask for Help,” that is the
crucible of self-care from which all unselfish love and presence spring. According to
Thich Nhat Hanh, it dwells in the place of our greatest vulnerability and at the same
time pushes us to lean on our most crippling crutch:
This mantra is for when you are suffering and you believe that your beloved has caused you suffering. If someone else had done the same wrong to you, you would have suffered less. But this is the person you love the most, so you suffer deeply, and the last thing you feel like doing is to ask that person for help… So now it is your pride that is the obstacle to reconciliation and healing. According to the teaching of the Buddha, in true love there is no place for pride.
When you are suffering like this, you must go to the person you love and ask for his or her help. That is true love. Do not let pride keep you apart. You must overcome your pride. You must always go to him or her. That is what this mantra is for. Practice for yourself first, to bring about oneness of your body and mind before going to the other person to say the fourth mantra: “Dear one, I am suffering; please help.” This is very simple but very hard to do.
Mantra is free! It has no side effects! It’s simple and so easy!
I’ve been using the Fabulous self-care app for four months now and I really like it. It aligns perfectly with my daily self-care program and facilitates such goals as:
increase your energy
feel vibrant health
It helps clients to create and maintain a productive daily routine as well as facilitates the accomplishment of lasting change. In addition, it helps you form and maintain new habits as well as plan each day according to your self-care needs. Keeping up with healthy habits consistently can be a challenge so using prompts and good structure is crucial for success.
The app works like a “coach” and uses behavioral science to help people make smart changes in their lifestyle. It is based on feedback from top researchers and is tested in multiple ways. In 2018, the app was named one of the best apps under Self-Care in the Apple Store and was a Best App Finalist in the Google Play Awards. The free version of the app is quite enough but if you’d like to get the full version (Premium), it is only $30-40 per year.
The app helps you build routines over time by breaking habits down into small, attainable steps and “journeys.” The initial journey revolves around creating a healthy morning routine to set yourself up for a successful day.
For example, during the first three days, your only goal will be to drink a glass of water right when you wake up. The app will send you a notification each morning at the time you specify.
Over time, you are able to add more habits to your journey, also known as “habit stacking.” This is a common technique used to sustain long-term routines. The app allows you to customize your routines and choose the habits you want to stack.
The following article from Healthline.com provides an excellent presentation of the app. There’s not much to add besides my personal testimony.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Fabulous has an easy-to-navigate interface and a comforting aesthetic of blue and purple colors. It also has a built-in soundtrack, ambient sounds, and beautifully designed background templates.
After hopping on the app, it asks you a series of questions, such as “How often do you focus on the future?” and “What single change would improve your life right now?” It also asks how you identify, what time you generally wake up, and whether you’re ready to transform your life for the better.
After answering a few more basic questions, Fabulous configures a “journey” for you based on your answers and will ask you to sign a “contract” that says:
“I, [your name], will make the most of tomorrow. I will always remember that I will not live forever. Every fear and irritation that threatens to distract me will become fuel for building my best life one day at a time.”
The first journey on the app centers on adding one positive step to your routine each day, like drinking water as soon as you wake up.
The app then plays an animated video explaining the importance of a morning routine by highlighting the daily routines of Michelle Obama, Benjamin Franklin, and Nelson Mandela.
After you get in the habit of drinking water, you get to continue building on to your morning routine by adding a new habit, such as eating a nutritious breakfast or exercising after waking up. It takes three days to “unlock” the next task.
The app will notify you before each habit with a reminder alert at the time you specify.
This is the preliminary routine-building journey. Once you lock that one down, you can select any of four different journeys you want to focus on: feel more energized, lose weight, sleep better, and focus and concentrate.
Make Me Fabulous
The “Make Me Fabulous” icon is located on the lower right panel, and it comes with a variety of activities to try out. There’s a dashboard that showcases your goals and journey progress, allowing you to track your performance.
There are six ways to become “fabulous”: exercise, focused work, meditation, yoga, stretch, and power nap. Fabulous consulted with top researchers to create these sessions, and they regularly update them with new insights from scientific studies.
After selecting a category, you get to choose an activity from their library, depending on how much time you want to dedicate. There’s a timer next to each activity so you can see how long it will take you to complete it.
For example, if you only have a minute, it’ll ask you to do a quick and easy task like make the bed. If you have more time, you can choose something like the “Do Anywhere Exercise,” a 10-minute endurance and strength workout session that requires no additional equipment. If you have a lot of time, you could try 4-Hour Deep Work, a session to help you find focus by dedicating four hours to meaningful and creative work.
After you complete a task, you get to read a short motivating letter that encourages your progress. The Fabulous team sends you a weekly recap report and letter to read.
Paid offerings (Premium)
The premium version of the app also unlocks:
Personal one-on-one coaching to keep you motivated and focused
Integrated fitness programming like yoga, stretching, meditation, etc.
Assistance in creating a morning ritual
Targeted health advice
PROS AND CONS
The sessions are science-backed and created in collaboration with researchers.
It uses a “gamified” experience that can make goal setting and staying consistent enjoyable.
It has an easy-to-navigate interface with pleasing designs and graphics.
There’s a large collection of exercises and meditations.
All the routines show how long each task is going to take.
The notifications can be easy to ignore.
Challenging navigation at times; many features, and not so easy-to-learn.
There’s no warning that your free trial is going to end.
There’s not a lot of options or customization if you don’t pay for the full version.
You’re unable to set nondaily habits.
The healthy eating portion centers on losing weight, which might not fit everyone’s goal and can be triggering for some.
The app has a lot of features and can be a challenge for those who are not used to electronic devices. Here are some additional instructions from another professional review.
Setup the App
Download the app from the Play Store and install it on your phone. Open the app and setup it as shown in screenshots below. Here you have four options to start with and you can start your journey with any one of them.
Using the App
The fabulous app has a great UI and looks really cool. If you selected the first one journey then from starting, you will get the notification for start the Morning Ritual. On the dashboard, it shows the goals and your journey progress where you can track your performance. You can personalize it according to you.
Here you got an icon at the lower right, Tap on Make Me Fabulous icon whenever you have some free minutes and try these different activities. There are six ways to become fabulous- Exercise, Power Nap, Focused Work. Meditate, Yoga and Stretch. In every section, you find some different things to do.
In every part, you have some time-based tasks to do. For example, in the 'One minute - Just get Moving' task, you have to follow it within the time.
There are some challenges or goals you have to succeed. From the first day, you have to create a habit of Drinking Water / eating great breakfast / exercise after wake up in the morning. The app setup the alarm and remind you every morning to drink water. You have to drink water for 3 days in a row to complete this task and unlock the next task.
There are also One-time action and Motivator to help you to complete your goal. Here you get Your Letter No. 1 which is really interesting to read. Every time after completion of the task, you got a letter. As soon as you complete the challenges, new challenges will be unlocked and you have to succeed in all of them. You also got your weekly report and weekly letter, every week!
There are four journeys in total. Starting from the first journey - An Unexpected Journey, as soon as you progress in it, the next journey will unlock to start and change your life. In every journey there are several chapters, you got a new chapter for all.
You can check your current and past status using timeline, success rate and month view. You can set your Morning as well Afternoon and evening Rituals according to you. This is really a great app, try this if you really want to make your life Fabulous!
According to research, 90% of our success in life is determined by our emotional intelligence (or IE) and only 10% by our IQ. IE is a skill that everyone can learn. It can dramatically affect the quality of our relationships, the effectiveness of our communications, and our overall sense of happiness and well-being. Currently, very little attention is paid in schools to developing this essential skill in students. For that reason, much of the adult population has a frustratingly low level of EI which leads to low productivity, interpersonal conflicts, and a variety of personal problems such as burnout, depression, or chronic pessimism. To develop EI, you need to work in parallel on several other essential skills that we covered already. These are Mindfulness, Self-compassion, generating positive emotions such as gratitude, and the ability to savor pleasure. In that sense, Self-care (the primary focus of this Newsletter) is an essential component of EI.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to:
Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and;
Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.
In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions – both our own and others.
Managing emotions is especially important in situations when we are under pressure. For example, when we are:
Giving and receiving feedback
Meeting tight deadlines
Dealing with challenging relationships
Not having enough resources
Working through setbacks and failure
WHY EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS IMPORTANT
It’s a scientific fact that emotions precede thought. When emotions run high, they change the way our brains function…diminishing our cognitive abilities, decision-making powers, and even interpersonal skills. Understanding and managing our emotions (and the emotions of others) helps us to be more successful in both our personal and professional lives.
At a personal level, emotional intelligence helps us:
Have uncomfortable conversations without hurting feelings
Manage our emotions when stressed or feeling overwhelmed
Improve relationships with the people we care about
At work, emotional intelligence can help us:
Coach and motivate others
Create a culture of collaboration
Build psychological safety within teams
Your EI Could Matter More Than Your IQ, Especially at Work
Research cited by Harvard Business Review shows that EI counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined in determining who will be professionally successful. 80% of competencies that differentiate top performers from others are in the domain of Emotional Intelligence.
Test your Emotional Intelligence with a Free EI Quiz by the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP).
SEVERAL PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF EI
Most people live in constant denial, avoiding thoughts and ideas that create discomfort or reveal unpleasant truths. EI includes the capacity for candor – to handle difficult ideas and troubling facts and to soberly explore and accept them without denial.
Emotionally immature people tend to get defensive. They take criticism of one part of them as an attack on everything about them, on their personality. High EI people are open-minded and ready to learn from others. They don’t take criticism personally and are even grateful for the critical feedback because it allows them to constantly grow.
Emotionally intelligent people can patiently and reasonably put their disappointments into words that, more or less, enable others to see their point. They know how easy it is to be misunderstood and make sure that they deliver their point in non-aggressive and clear words, always asking for feedback how their message has been interpreted.
Manage expectations. Disappointment comes from expectations. Being mature means having plans and goals without the attachment to certain expectations. Factoring in that things rarely go as planned, we can be prepared for surprises and get the best out of every situation. As the saying goes, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Saying no. The capacity to know when to say no (even if we are dying to say yes) is one of the prerequisites for a happy and successful life. Quite often we say yes when asked for a favor or when invited to an event out of politeness or due to a huge overestimation of our available time and ability to do it. Only later, to much distress, do we realize that we are so overwhelmed with engagements, that it is physically impossible to hold our promise. This causes unnecessary anxiety on our part, and much disappointment on the part of others. A good technique is to delay our response to the next day and in the meantime give it a serious consideration in light of our true desire and available resources.
Another practical aspect of EI includes the abilities to express our needs and to set boundaries. The fact is that other people can't read our mind and it is our responsibility to make it clear what we need from them and what we can't accept (e.g., yell at us or talk behind our back). We need to take seriously the thought that others are not willfully misunderstanding us. We have the inner resources to teach rather than insist and it is a matter of practice to show others how we’d like to be treated and what our needs are.
You can learn the amazing skill of reading facial expressions here https://www.paulekman.com/micro-expressions-training-tools/
The tools are developed by Dr. Paul Ekman, PhD, one of the leading experts in emotions. It take about an hour and can help you improve your social skills dramatically.
After reading this article, if you see yourself interested in the topic, you should read Daniel Goleman's groundbreaking book "Emotional intelligence" and Alain de Botton's "The school of life: An emotional education". Check out the School of life page here. It offers great resources: https://www.theschooloflife.com/
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free course on EI.
COMPONENTS OF EI
Self-awareness is the foundation of all emotional intelligence, because if we don’t have self-awareness, then we are ignorant of our choices, our behaviors, and the impact we have on others.
Self-awareness includes things like emotional awareness; i.e. your ability to notice how you feel, your self-confidence, and accurate self-assessment.
Someone with low self-awareness might say, “I don’t know?”, when you ask how they’re feeling. Or it might be someone who’s really skilled at their job, but they don’t believe they’re that good at it.
Someone with high self-awareness will accurately understand how they feel, their strengths, and their weaknesses. And in a paradoxical way, people who are deeply self-aware will know they have biases and blind spots, rather than believing they can always see everything about themselves perfectly.
Self-management is the critical ability to manage your emotional state.
It includes things like your level of drive and initiative, and your ability to think before you speak.
It also involves how well you can deal with loss and failure, and rising to the challenge of the journey itself.
A great example of low self-management is someone with bad road rage or a partner who loses their mind because the dishwasher isn’t stacked correctly.
An example of high self-management is being able to get yourself to the gym after work even though you can’t be bothered, or an athlete who can accept and overcome the loss of a big tournament, even though they’re heartbroken.
Meakness – when we know and accept ourselves, other people’s compliments or criticism don’t add or detract anything from us. We can act with composure and self-control.
The emotional cycle – Anger/Frustration - Fear/Anxiety - Shame/Guilt/Sadness.
Self-management is also the capacity to read the signs of the emotional cycle and be able to reverse it, to emotionally backtrack. Be aware of the progression and take active steps to disrupt it. Detect anger/frustration and monitor if it leads to fear/anxiety and further to shame/guilt/sadness.
If I were to ask you, “Are you an honest person?” chances are you will quickly say, “Yes! Of course.”
But if I were to also ask, “How good are you at saying what’s on your mind? Or at clearly expressing your needs to your partner or to your manager?” Suddenly it’s a whole different story.
So many people keep their feelings and needs a secret, suppressed and locked away, even from themselves.
But sharing what you really think and feel (depending on the nature and context of your relationship) is what being authentic is all about.
The first level of authenticity is your ability to know yourself, be yourself, and express yourself–including expressing your needs. A more advanced level of authenticity is when you’re able to communicate your true self in a way that is effective.
An example of low authenticity is someone that’s being passive-aggressive, or someone who’s afraid to tell their boss they’re a micro-manager, but then complain about them being a micro-manager behind their back.
An example of high authenticity is someone who can have a deep, honest conversation about their goals and dreams, their fears, or what’s truly concerning them.
Some people love to make their decisions purely on feelings. Others pride themselves on being purely logical and rational. But the best is a combination of both. This is emotional reasoning; the ability to leverage data with intuition. Feelings and facts.
If all you do is view the world through spreadsheets and data, you’re not actually leveraging ALL the data that exists, which includes your own feelings, senses, and intuition. Equally, not everything you feel is 100% accurate.
An example of low emotional reasoning is climate change deniers—people who refuse to accept the data compiled by thousands of world-class scientists and experts in this field. They tend to focus on their offended, angry feelings instead.
An example of high emotional reasoning is an athlete who does all the technical study and research around their sport, then practices their technical moves over and over until they know exactly when it “feels right”.
Awareness of Others
Being aware of others means that you are mindful and sensitive to what others experience.
This part of EI includes understanding the universal archetypes that motivate human behavior. Although everyone is quite unique, we are driven by the same fundamental motives – we all struggle with insecurities, we’d like to be accepted and loved, we like being successful and competent. Knowing that we are share similar inner reality makes us more empathetic to others and relate to them better by being able to understand the reasons behind their behavior. Having this skill makes other people feel that they can relate more easily to us.
It means you’re considerate of the choices you make and the actions you take, mindful of the impact they could have. It also includes the ability to empathize, and even if you don’t personally relate to someone else’s situation or how their response, it means you can see things from their side, because you get that it’s THEIR experience. They don’t need to act like you, because they’re not you.
An example of low awareness of others is someone who’s really slow to come to the dinner table, even though someone else has just spent 2 hours preparing it for them in the kitchen, and another 4 friends or family are waiting them to hurry-up and join.
An example of high-awareness of others is the work colleague who calls after your zoom meeting, because they thought you were a bit quieter than usual and they wanted to see if everything is ok?
This skill relates to your ability to notice and understand not just other people, but also the wider social environment.
It also includes your ability to accurately read a room, and to recognize or anticipate others’ needs.
An example of low social awareness is a coworker who tells inappropriate jokes in front of work clients, or your partner who makes comments about how you’re behaving in front of other people.
An example of high social awareness is the coach who waits until you’ve had some time to digest a big competition loss before getting you to talk about where you lost the match, and what to do differently next time.
Emotionally intelligent people can foster, maintain, and develop their relationships, both personally and professionally.
They’re good at collaborating and working in teams, negotiating, and effectively resolving challenges and conflicts.
An example of low relationship management is a colleague who gets super defensive, or a partner who immediately deflects problems back at you, any time you try to talk with them about something.
An example of high relationship management is a colleague, friend, or parent, who can moderate a discussion that focuses on progress and solutions, instead of playing an attacking or defensive blame game.
Psychologist and leading authority on emotional intelligence,
Daniel Goleman, includes “influence” within the relationship
management EI domain.
Social influence includes things like how well you can encourage
others to shift their perspectives, inspire new beliefs,
and to create new, empowering behaviors.
Influencing others in a negative way, such as to commit a crime or
to influence them to think they aren’t good enough,
is not emotionally intelligent.
Why? Because this type of negative influence lacks other key
EI skills such as:
1) Awareness of others – they’re unable to see someone’s skillset,
or their potential skillset.
2) Emotional reasoning – typically, it’s them who want to commit
a crime, or they have low self-esteem, so they project their emotional
states onto someone else convincing them that’s how they feel.
In this light, emotionally intelligent influence serves to bring out
the best in others, not the worst.
An example of low social influence is the neighbor who complains a lot or the draining colleague who always has a problem for every solution that’s put on the table. It’s the person who plays the victim.
An example of high social influence is the schoolteacher who inspires kids from troubled homes or a bad neighborhood, making them feel valued, important, and that they can achieve greatness.
EMOTIONS AND THE BRAIN
Emotions take place in the amygdala, which is located in the limbic system. Healthy emotions are balanced by the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning and reasoning. To make emotionally intelligent decisions we want to engage the prefrontal cortex because this is where we do our best thinking.
To avoid low EI behavior, like acting aggressively, shutting down, or panicking, we need to learn how to actively shift from prioritizing our amygdala, to our prefrontal cortex. We can achieve this by practicing self-reflection, evaluating emotions, and actively managing emotional states.
Research shoes that a crucial component of emotional intelligence is cognitive control. It is the process by which goals or plans influence behavior. Also called executive control, this process can inhibit automatic responses and influence working memory. Cognitive control supports flexible, adaptive responses and complex goal-directed thought.
Cognitive control is a great predictor of professional success in life as well as of personal well-being and successful relationships. You can improve your cognitive control by deliberately striving to delay gratification and control your impulses. You can do that by analyzing situations where you succumb to temptations and create a network of support - people who hold you accountable, remove temptations from your immediate surroundings, and pledge to avoid certain activities/settings such as unhealthy food or the company of people who make you irritable and jumpy. Committing to a goal and having a plan how to follow through is one of the best practices for increasing cognitive control.
Along with the classic "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman, one of the best books on the essence of EI is "The School of Life" by best-selling author Alain de Botton (see also the page with the same name). Here I provide several excerpts from the book that I find particularly illuminating.
In an ideal society, it would be not only children who need education.
All adults would recognize that they inevitably require continuing
education of an emotional kind and would remain active followers
of a psychological curriculum.
We have collectively left to chance some of what it is most important to know;
we have denied ourselves the opportunity to systematically transmit wisdom,
reserving our belief in education to technical and managerial skills.
We take the first steps toward maturity by determining some of the ways
in which our emotional minds deny, lie, evade, forget, and obsess, steering us
toward goals that won’t deliver the satisfaction of which we’re initially convinced.
A readiness to mitigate the worst of our everyday foolishness contributes to the
highest kind of emotional intelligence of which we may ever be capable.
We are as clever with our machines and technologies as we are simple-minded
in the management of our emotions. We are, in terms of wisdom, little more
advanced than the ancient Sumerians or the Picts.
The emotionally intelligent person knows that love is a skill, not a feeling,
and will require trust, vulnerability, generosity, humor, sexual understanding,
and selective resignation.
The emotionally intelligent person awards themselves the time to determine what gives their working life meaning and has the confidence and tenacity to try to find an accommodation between their inner priorities and the demands of the world. The emotionally intelligent person knows how to hope and be grateful, while remaining steadfast before the essentially tragic structure of existence. The emotionally intelligent person knows that they will only ever be mentally healthy in a few areas and at certain moments, but is committed to fathoming their inadequacies and warning others of them in good time, with apology and charm.
There are few catastrophes, in our own lives or in those of nations, that do not ultimately have their origins in emotional ignorance.
EI is to know that we should understand rather than condemn, that others are primarily anxious rather than cruel, that every strength of character we admire bears with it a weakness we must forgive.
Another form of EI is the understanding that we not to have passed through our young years without sustaining some form of deep psychological injury—what we can term a set of “primal wounds.” Everyone has some sort of such wounds and they get projected in sporadic “hurt” behaviors. When we have this in mind, we don’t get things personally and extend sympathy for those who show such weakness, understanding what it is to be in their shoes.
EI is the knowledge that each of us isn’t either entirely good or wholly bad. One becomes ready to accept that everyone they like will be a mixture of the positive and the negative. They won’t as adults fall deeply in love and then grow furious at the first moment of let-down.
When another person frustrates or humiliates us, can we let the insult go, able to perceive the senseless malice beneath the attack, or are we left brooding and devastated, implicitly identifying with the verdict of our enemies?
SELF-COMPASSION (see also the section on self-compassion on the main page)
Somewhere in our minds, removed from the day to day, there sit judges. They watch what we do, study how we perform, examine the effect we have on others, track our successes and failures—and then, eventually, they pass verdicts. These determine our levels of confidence and self-compassion; they lend us a sense of whether we are worthwhile beings.
An inner voice was always an outer voice that we have – imperceptibly – made our own.
Part of improving how we judge our lives involves learning—in a conscious, deliberate way—to speak to ourselves in a new and different tone, which means exposing ourselves to better voices. We need to hear constructive, kindly voices often enough and around tricky enough issues that they come to feel like normal and natural responses, so that, eventually, they become our own thoughts.
We need to become better friends to ourselves. The idea sounds odd, initially, because we naturally imagine a friend as someone else, not as a part of our own mind. But there is value in the concept because of the extent to which we know how to treat our own friends with a sympathy and imagination that we don’t apply to ourselves.
Many things that we might assume to be uniquely odd or disconcertingly strange about us are in reality wholly ubiquitous, though rarely spoken of in the reserved and cautious public sphere. Any idea of the normal currently in circulation is not an accurate map of what is customary for a human to be.
THE POWER OF INTERPRETATION
We need charity, but not of the usual kind; we need what we might term a “charity of interpretation”: that is, we require an uncommonly generous assessment of our idiocy, weakness, eccentricity, or deceit. The charitable interpreter holds on also to the idea that sweetness must remain beneath the surface, along with the possibility of remorse and growth. They are committed to mitigating circumstances.
We must be kind in the sense not only of being touched by the remote material suffering of strangers, but also of being ready to do more than condemn and hate the sinful around us, hopeful that we too may be accorded a tolerable degree of sympathy in our forthcoming hour of failure and shame.
We should interpret people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside of certain merits that drew us to them, and from which we will benefit at other points. We can see easily enough that someone is pedantic and uncompromising; we tend to forget, at moments of crisis, their thoroughness and honesty. We know so much about a person’s messiness, we have forgotten their uncommon degree of creative enthusiasm. The very same character trait that we approve of will be inseparable from tendencies we end up regretting.
The theory of the weakness of strength invites us to be calm and forensic about the most irritating aspects of those we live around. The consolation comes in not viewing them in isolation, in remembering the accompanying trait that redeems them and explains the friendship, in recalling that a lack of time management might have its atonement in creativity or that dogmatism might be the offshoot of precision.
We resent others with unhelpful speed when we lack the will to consider the origins of their behavior.
A "thorn" is a troubling, maddening element of our inner lives—a fear, a biting worry, a regret, a sense of guilt, a feeling of humiliation, a strained hope, or an agonized disappointment that rumbles away powerfully but just out of range of our standard view of ourselves. The art of living is to a large measure dependent on an ability to understand our thorns and explain them with a modicum of grace to others—and, when we are on the other side of the equation, to imagine the thorns of others, even those whose precise locations or dimensions we will never know for certain. People are bad, always, because they are in difficulty. They slander, gossip, denigrate, and growl because they are not in a good place. Contented people have no need to hurt others. There is only one plausible, though extremely challenging, way forward: a response of love.
Emotionally intelligent people don’t take things personally, even when they may be the target of rage.
They do not try to teach a lesson whenever it might first or most apply; they wait till it has the best chance of being heard.
The Roman playwright Terence is remembered for one very famous declaration: “Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto” (I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me).
Key to the practice is regularly to turn over three large questions. The first asks what we might be anxious about right now.
We can force ourselves to imagine what might happen if our vague, catastrophic forebodings truly came to pass.
We can turn a jumble of worries into that most calming, and intellectually noble, of documents: a list.
A philosophical meditation moves on to a second enquiry: What am I upset about right now?
The third question to consider within a philosophical meditation is: What am I ambitious and excited about right now?
When someone puts you down, say something positive about yourself, say something positive about them, and this way you the exchange into a positive one.
Two jocks tease a skinny nerd carrying a soccer ball. “Hey, you’ll never play soccer, loser.” The kid takes a deep breath and replies, “I’ll play soccer, although I’ll never be as good as you. But I am really good at art, give me anything and I can draw it really well. I hope someday I become as good as you are at soccer.” Then one of the jocks say, “You know, come here, I’ll show you a thing or two.”
CHANGE THE CULTURE
Ask your kid, “Did anyone do something nice to you today?” or “Did you do anything nice to someone today?” This way you shift the focus from a competitive culture to a collaborative culture with high EI and empathetic concern.
Remember that optimism is highly correlated with success. It is also related to a strong sense of meaning and purpose (see the section on Life Purpose).
There are several factors that determine our outlook of life. The first one is our locus of control – it refers to our confidence that we can change or control elements of our lives. An internal locus of control is associated with optimism; this is the belief that you can take an active role in controlling things like exam results, work performance, and your environment in general. In contrast, those with an external locus of control tend to feel helpless about changing their relationships, lives, and so forth. The latter, Hecht argues, is pessimistic.
Another factors that determines optimism is our attributional style. When we attribute them to external, localized, and transient circumstances, we can feel hopeful for better results next time – “I didn’t beat my personal best because I have the flu – but I’ll swim faster when I’m well.” This is distinctly optimistic.
Attributional styles also apply to positive outcomes – but the other way around. Viewing good results as due to global, stable factors inside ourselves is optimistic “I aced that because I’m a great student,” and attributing them to temporary and uncontrollable causes is pessimistic “Wow that was a one-off, downhill from here” (Abramson et al., 1978).
Lastly, optimism is based on a growth mindset. For that reason, it is always good to tell yourself, “I can do better.” In contrast, people with fixed mindset tend to be pessimistic. They believe that they are either good at something or not so they don’t put the extra effort when encountering challenges.
Optimism is a skill that can be learned. The positive psychology view of learned optimism is about how we interpret the world, and according to this premise, it’s not a fixed trait or part of our disposition. Instead, it can be seen as more of a strategy – an outlook that we can learn to cultivate when we start by challenging our automatic negative thoughts.
Optimism is also related to a strong sense of meaning and purpose (see the section on Life Purpose).
If you would like to dig deeper in the topic, here is an excellent article https://positivepsychology.com/learned-optimism/
According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, we should aim to align what we’re great at (our excellence) with what we love doing (what engages us), with our ethical sense (what matters to us). If we align those three things, we have what he calls “good work”.
Ask yourself, How much of my day has been “good work”? What could I do to enhance it? What could I do to make it all of what I do?
Dalai Lama recommends, whenever you face a decision, to ask yourself three questions:
Who benefits? Is it just you or a group?
Is it just you or a group, or everyone?
Is it only for now or for the future?
Happify is a fun, engaging, and highly interactive self-improvement program (offered in both website and app form) that puts your well-being in your own hands. Its mission is to help users reduce stress, anxiety and negative thinking, and improve emotional wellness. Furthermore, it teaches people how to develop skills promoting happiness. Like other highly successful self-care apps, Happify underscores micro steps that help clients build a daily self-care routine. In other words, it creates a lifestyle change that is there to stay.
The ultimate goal of the app is what researchers call “flourishing,” which is a “state of optimal mental health” in which people “experience positive emotions regularly, excel in their daily lives, and contribute to the world around them in constructive ways.” For most people, there’s some room for improvement. In the Harris Poll’s 2015 Happiness Index survey, just 34 percent of Americans say they are “very happy.” (This has been the case for some time: As of a 1999 Surgeon General’s report, only 17 percent of U.S. adults had “optimal mental health.”)
Users create an account and answer a short questionnaire which helps the app suggest a “track” for the user. “Tracks” are groups of activities and games which help the user achieve their goals. Tracks are based on cognitive behavioral principles therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology and are created by professionals to help clients achieve specific goals. Examples of tracks include “Cope Better with Stress” and “Conquer Your Negative Thinking.” Users can access free tracks or choose to pay a subscription fee to access more tracks and features such as data statistics that help measure progress. There is also an AI coach present to help guide users. Users can participate in the Happify community through forums and public posts and they can also read a digest of positive news through Happify Daily.
Happify lets you train yourself for happiness and resilience through life’s challenges by:
Stopping and changing negative thoughts
Decreasing anxiety and stress
Building mindfulness and optimism
Gaining confidence and self-esteem
The app offers tracks, which are comprehensive programs or courses full of information and activities to help you work toward goals. Tracks include:
Family and kids
Work and money
Mindfulness and meditation
Health and well-being
Happify offers activities outside of the tracks, too.
The Instant Play section contains games and activities
like reflections and guided relaxations to train your brain
and build happiness. You can play in categories that
researchers have shown to correspond with happiness
and life satisfaction.
Happify keeps track of what you complete and shows you your progress. When you open the app, you’ll see your progress in your current track right on the home screen, and you can visit your profile to see a more in-depth look at what you’ve accomplished.
These categories include:
Exercises and games are based on research. “A lot of these
positive activities, they do make you feel better in the moment,”
says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the
University of California, Riverside. (There is a track on
Happify based on some of her research.) “But what research
shows is that those moments, even though they might be
transient, they have recursive effects. They create what
we call ‘upward spirals.’”
Furthermore, the app offers a “signature strengths” assessment, developed by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, who is often called the father of positive psychology. This will allow you to gain greater insight into you own personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
The app activities were designed by Parks says she based the Happify scale on existing measures of happiness, and did a validation study to make sure “it correlates very strongly with the things that are used in research.”
One of Happify’s frequently-occurring activities is a game called Uplift, in which you watch a bunch of hot air balloons drift across a landscape (Level One is “Desert Winds,” perhaps evoking the dry and dusty state of my interior at the beginning of my journey?). The balloons have words on them, and you’re supposed to click on the positive words and let the negative ones float away. This is based on eye-tracking studies that have found that people in a good mood are more likely to pay attention to positive stimuli.
The developers track user progress and satisfaction and assert that “86% of people who use Happify regularly report feeling better about their lives in about 2 months!”
Finally, it is important to say that the goal is not to be happy all the time or to scrap all negative emotions. It’s all about balance and context. Research suggests that the key to well-being is not feeling positive emotions more often than negative emotions, or trying to turn negativity into positivity, but rather feeling a wide variety of emotions, a concept that June Gruber, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, calls “emodiversity.” Much like biodiversity (an abundance of different species of plants and animals) makes an environment resilient, emodiversity appears to make one’s internal environment resilient, too. She’s found that people with greater emodiversity have better physical and mental health. “They actually fared worse if they had an imbalance of negative emotions at the expense of positive or positive at the expense of negative,” she says.
You can read a detailed review here:
How Much Does Happify Cost?
You can choose from two versions of this app: Happify and Happify Plus. You can access and use an abbreviated version of Happify for free. For Happify Plus, you can either pay the full yearly price of $139.99 upfront (amounting to $11.99/month) or select their monthly payment plan of $14.99/month.
With the free version:
Access 12 tracks
Play some of the games and activities in Instant Play
Read the articles and watch the videos in Happify Daily
Participate in the Community
Receive your top three character strengths and brief description after taking the VIA character assessment
If after exploring Happify’s free version you decide you’d like even more, you can upgrade to Happify Plus. Your paid membership will give you full access to everything in the app, such as:
All activities in the 129 tracks
Personalized tips and insights into your progress
Comparing your skills to other similar users
Every game and activity in Instant Play plus all power-ups in the games
Your full VIA character strengths profile, with your five top strengths and a 20-page individualized strengths report
Happify Plus is more expensive than other mental health apps, such as Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace (each is less than $100 per year). However, Happify offers more overall than other apps, and has more depth and breadth to what is offered.
How to Get Started with the Happify App
Happify is user-friendly and easy to install on your smartphone or tablet. If you prefer, you can access it on your desktop or laptop through their website. After spending a few mere minutes creating an account, you’ll have access to the information and interactive activities and can be immediately on your way to taking charge of your well-being.
This is the process at a glance:
Download the app for your iPhone or Android device,
or visit happify.com to use it on your computer.
Set up an account. It’s free to do so, and it’s a requirement. You can’t access anything without an account. The process is quick, though. It involves taking a simple assessment in which you provide your name and email address, gender, age range, and other simple demographic data. You’ll answer a few basic questions, multiple choice or rating-scale style. Your answers purportedly allow Happify to recommend a track for you to start with.
Complete an optional happiness check-in. If you skip it, you’ll be prompted to complete it the next time you log in. It’s easy to decline if you don’t want to do it, but it could be valuable to do if you want to track your progress over time. You get a baseline reading and then are offered a chance to retake it every two weeks. Tangible feedback can help encourage you to continue your journey to a happier outlook.
Take a test assessing your strengths. Like the happiness check-in, this is optional; it’s not required to use any part of the app. Consider it a bonus that helps you better know yourself and what you can do more of in your life to build on your natural character strengths. It’s free to do, and if you stick with the free version you’ll receive a partial report of your unique strengths profile.
Jump right in to the free version, or upgrade to Happify Plus. If you upgrade, you’ll enter your credit card information and immediately be charged for your first month or for the entire year, depending on which plan you select. From this point, your subscription is managed through your payment method, such as Apple or Google, or directly with your credit card company.
Happify tracks your progress to help keep you motivated. You’ll see your Track Activity Board on your homepage when you open the app, which shows you how much of the track you’ve accomplished and gives easy access to the next activities. You can check your profile to discover your total skill points earned over time and the areas in which you’ve been working to achieve them.
Happify offers a ton of fun videos with practices and tips. Here are two examples: