Making Happier Even Better: See What’s Coming This Week!

We released a new version of Happier for iOS8 and iPad last week and we’re working hard to make the experience even more awesome every day. Here are some changes you’ll see this week:

  • Take multiple courses in parallel without interrupting progress from another course. We thought this was incredibly important with so many courses at your fingertips (in case you missed it: most of our courses are now free). We know some days you might want to meditate AND do Yoga. Now you can easily do both.
  • Want to binge-learn? Now you can. With our newest release, you can watch as many days of a course as you’d like, whenever you’d like. You no longer have to wait for the calendar day to change to continue your Happier learning journey. (We know you’re busy; being able to take each lesson when it works for you is important. Sometimes this means 3 in a row rather than 3 days in a row).
  • find-courses-easierWe’ve fixed our meditations. We know it was super annoying to have the audio stop if your phone went to sleep. That won’t happen anymore — hooray! — so you’ll be able to enjoy some of our longer meditations without interruption (which is the point).
  • We’ve made our courses easier to find. The tab is called Courses instead of Learn, and we’ve moved it to the far left so you can get to it right away. We’ll still respect your last tap, though, so if you were in Community the last time you left, we’ll send you there when you come back.
  • Track your progress. It’s now super easy to see how much you’ve completed on each course with new progress indicator labels in the courses tab!
  • course-progress-trackingYou know how you kept seeing “Thanks for purchasing!” after choosing our newly-free courses? Well, now that’s gone too. You’ll only see purchase confirmations and information if you’ve actually purchased and paid for a Premium course. This should be less confusing for everyone! (Did we mention we gave you a bunch of free courses?)
  • We’ve got some exciting news for Android users, too! Tony has been working HARD to get our free courses accessible for everyone. And while there’s still some work to do on the overall experience, we’re happy to say out first version WITH FREE COURSES will be available late this week!

We did a couple other small tweaks too — like fixing the stretching of photos when you share them, and making the login screens a little more fun. Please keep the feedback coming! We’re always working to improve the experience for our community but we can’t make it better if you don’t tell us. (Leave a comment here, or email team@happier.com any time.)

Mindful Break: #1 Reason To Relax And Believe Today

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My friends’ father passed away.  I say “friends'” in the plural because at some point in my life, I have been friends with all four of the siblings who called this great man their father.

A few days after the funeral, they tried to get back to their routines when something very interesting happened.

They live in the rolling hills of Kentucky. As they were all together, one looked outside to see a hot air balloon had landed on their property. Let me say that again: a hot air balloon landed on their property, if you can imagine such a thing.

(As one of the friends explained, this gave him goosebumps because his father had a hobby of flying hot air balloons. One time he surprised his son and picked him up from school in a hot air balloon to take him home. How awesome is that?)

Turns out the balloon could not land at the usual spot because of strong winds which forced the balloon down…right on the family’s property. NEVER before had this happened.

They were certain this was a sign from above… that their father was with them.

I told a person of faith this story… how the balloon landed right on my friend’s property, and she said, “OF COURSE IT DID!”

She didn’t question, didn’t ponder it, didn’t doubt it.

That is what Einstein meant by saying, “… either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle.”

Either this is the height of coincidence, or proof that their father was tipping his cap and saying “all is well… see you soon!”

One or the other. What will it be? You can’t choose both.

*****

I took a birthing class with my wife yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect but found myself totally fascinated.

The teacher said that in moments of fear, your body sends out a hormone called catecholamine which awakens you (adrenaline), triggering a flight or flight state.

But in moments of relaxation, your body releases endorphins, which serve as natural painkillers that create a soothing, tranquil, even euphoric condition.

Here’s the thing: Your brain cannot create catecholamine (fear) and endorphins (relaxation) at the same time.  It’s one or the other.

So it is with Belief.

As much as we like to think we can find a comfortable place where we partly trust the hot air balloon was Guided and partly believe it was mere coincidence, that puts us into neutral, and a neutral state of mind is like living with your hand break on.

So just for today: release the hand break, shift out of the fear response, and move beyond the doubt. Say to yourself…

Today, I commit fully to the awesome power of my life.

Happier Challenge: Be Proud Of Yourself

happier-challenge-proud-092214Good morning! Did you have an awesome weekend? Are you ready to kick this week off in style? Start it off right with today’s challenge, guaranteed to give you a self-confidence boost:

Think about something that you’re proud you’ve achieved.

(A sense of accomplishment is tied to increased happiness, which makes sense, because who doesn’t dig feeling like they did something cool?)

Here’s a few more ways to get your happy on as you embark on the new week:

  • If you’re fascinated by the science dedicated to studying happiness (we are!), check out this veritable crash course in recent research; I bet you’ll find some new-to-you tidbits, there.
  • Every so often, you just need some pictures to make you smile. May I suggest Men with long hair try fancy feminine up-dos for your consideration?
  • If you’re short on sleep—and who amongst the chronically busy isn’t—it’s time to learn about the coffee nap. Spoiler: it’s a real thing, it’s proven to work, and it takes very little time. Fascinating.

Have a happier week, and don’t forget to share a moment about this week’s challenge with the Happier community!

Happier Jump-Starts: Tips For Game Night

happier-jump-starts-gaming-092114There’s little I love more than a game night either with my family or a group of friends. These days we’re likely to spend time with loved ones doing things in parallel rather than truly together, and a few hours of group gaming changes the dynamic and forces a more intimate interaction. I never laugh as hard as I do during game night!

If you’re not already doing game nights, try it out! Even if you already are, hopefully you can pick up a few ideas for making it even more awesome. Here’s how we do it:

Game time is festive snack time. We could get into the philosophical implications of most social occasions being paired with food—that’s a different discussion, entirely—but the fact remains that some “special” food during a group activity just makes it more fun. No need to bust diets, either; just have fun nibbles that feel special (popcorn is always a hit at my house), pour your seltzer into a fancy glass, whatever makes it feel like a party.

Mix it up. My son would—and does—happily meet up with his fellow Dungeons & Dragons nerdlings for their weekly adventure, but when it comes to a mixed group of game-lovers, change it up each week. Do Pictionary one week, Taboo the next, etc. Part of the fun is learning new games, finding out who’s good at which ones, and learning new things about your fellow players.

Be competitive, but only as long as it’s fun. There’s a certain amount of fun inherent in competition—you don’t want a group that doesn’t take the game seriously—but do be mindful of not crossing the line into a place where those who are losing stop having fun. (This is more of a concern if you’re playing with kids.) Play for real, in other words, but not to the point of bloodshed and/or tears.

Practice kindness while you play. It may seem odd to suggest game night as a good time to practice kindness, but think about it—it’s a controlled environment with clearly-defined rules, and a great opportunity for young and old alike to demonstrate good sportsmanship and encouragement. Someone else made a fantastic play? “Wow, that was epic! Well done.” Again, this is the kind of thing you might think of while playing with kids, but who doesn’t like being complimented? You can be competitive and complimentary, and everyone will have even more fun.

Step out of your comfort zone. We know that trying new things and having novel experiences make us happier. Invite a new friend to join you. Try a game no one has tried before. Offer to host when usually you have game night somewhere else. Have game afternoon instead of game night—it’s up to you. Find a way to make it different, each time, and maybe surprise yourself how much you enjoy the change!

Go forth and enjoy your game night. And don’t forget to share a happy moment about it with the Happier community, too.

Happier Spotlight: Bringing People Together

Every now and then we get some user feedback that not only makes us happier (that part goes without saying), it’s so completely awesome it needs no explanation whatsoever. Check this out:

Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful app! I’ve been changing my life one happier moment at a time for about a month now. For about a year I kept a gratitude journal but having it on my phone makes it so much easier. When I first started using the app I put my settings on private, but then I noticed my brother getting lots of smiles and I was envious and curious about who all these other Happier users were — as they say “A stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet.” I started looking up people in my area and randomly smiling on their updates, and I’ve found myself intertwined with a random group of wonderful strangers who are kindred spirits. Happier is like Facebook for people who focus their attention on gratitude and the part of the glass that is half full. (While Facebook is saturated and littered with the latest celebrity drama, gossip, breaking news story and sob stories and could be considered a sad country song.) I actually find myself checking my Happier account more frequently than my Facebook.

I read a book called Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, and it stated that it takes 6 positive experiences to make up for 1 negative experience, that our minds are like teflon for positive and velcro for the negative. I’ve been working on turning happy moments into happy experiences, and your Happier app has been the keystone tool for doing just that, so THANK YOU! I am probably your biggest fan and supporter. With that said, I’ll get to the point of my email and apologize for the long introduction.

I think that there should be Happier parties! Facebook has done it, Myspace did it and so have numerous other companies. The fantastic thing is that most of my Happier interactions are with people I wouldn’t normally “socialize” with. And I love it. Happier users may come from different lifestyles, locations and have different interests but we all have one thing in common: we are choosing to focus on the positive things we experience and observe in our lives. If you want things in your life to change you have to change things in your life, including your perspective. Happier events would bring people together and just by the very nature of the event, it would be positive.

With all the sadness and chaos going on in the world today we could use a Happier revolution.

Jane Perkins

First of all, thank you so much, Jane, for being such a fantastic part of the Happier community and such a cheerleader for our vision. You’re the best! You’re the reason we do what we do.

Second, we are intrigued by your idea. So part of the reason we’re sharing your awesome email is to open it up to the community and ask if this is something others would be interested in, as well. What do you think, folks—would some sort of in-person Happier party/event be something you’d want? We make no promises, just yet, but if this is something a lot of you think is a great idea, we need to explore that. So please let us know.

Carson Kressley is here! On our actual blog!

photoEvery once in a while we’ll bring you a special series of Premium courses with exclusive content and access to world-class experts that you can’t get anywhere else. We think you’ll love what you get and we’re working hard to keep these unique opportunities ridiculously affordable and easily accessible to anyone.

Our first Premium course is Happier Makeover with Carson Kressley, an inspiring 7 day course to help you feel great from the inside out. To get you as excited about it as we are, we asked Carson to stop by and share some thoughts before the first day of class.

—–

Hi Happiers! It’s me, Carson! Just to prove that I practice what I preach — and teach — about choosing to be positive about yourself — here are Ten Things I Like About Me:

1.  I’ve got great legs.  Shopping is my cardio and it’s paying off.
2.  My smile.  It’s not perfect but it cost a lot of money and I love it.
3.  My hair.  Somedays I like it more than others but at least I’ve still got it. For now.
4. My skin. I drink lots of water and try to take care of it but I’m just lucky, I guess, as it’s naturally good.
5. My ab. Yes, you read that right.  Just the beginnings of a two-pack.  But it’s better than nothing…
6. My clavicle.  It’s one of my best features. Boat neck sweaters anyone?
7. My hands.  People always comment on them.  I really think I could have been a hand model. #itsnevertoolatetofollowyourdream
8.  My lips.  (Here’s a case of making lemonade out of lemons:  As a kid, I was playing “make your own seesaw” with my brother.  Bad idea.  The board went flying and whacked me in the face.  I got a dozen or more stitches in my upper lip.  It gave me a pouty look that people now seem to love.  Always a trend setter and way ahead of The Real Housewives with this look!)
9.   My waist. It’s pretty good for a guy who basically lives on champagne and Swedish fish.  Again just lucky – and grateful!
10.  Did I mention my nail beds?
Now it’s your turn to be positive about yourself! See you in class!

Don’t Panic: Changes In The New Happier App

We were super excited to announce the latest version of the Happier app, because we’ve been working hard and we always love to bring our community improvements and even more ways to make you happier. But we also recognize that change can be a little uncomfortable, so we want to help clarify some questions we’ve received about changes in the new and improved app.

Help! Can we not edit or delete moments anymore??
In the old version of the app, you had the little gear wheel in the upper righthand corner of a moment. In the new version, instead, you have an ellipse (that’s the ) either under your moment text (if there’s no picture) or on your photo (if you used one); in either case, you’ll see it in the lower left corner. Clicking on the ellipse takes you to your editing options. See below (I drew an orange arrow pointing to the ellipse) (I also used this moment of me holding the official Happier Baby because he’s adorable):

app-changes-momentapp-changes-moment-edit

Help! Where did my moment collection options go?
Instead of doing all of your moment stuff on a single screen, in the new version of the app, you input text/photo information first, then hit the next button to proceed to the rest of your options, like choosing a category, where/how your moment will be shared, etc. See below:

new-moment-text-inputnew-moment-options

Did comments disappear?? I don’t see them!
You can still leave comments on others’ moments and read comments left by others; we have simply opted to hide those comments from your main feed (for a faster load and scroll). The little speech bubble on the lower right of moments is where you click to either read comments or leave your own; a count number will appear to indicate the presence of comments, too. Here’s a moment from Nataly that had 7 comments when I scrolled passed it:

app-changes-comment-count

But what happened to…
Please bear in mind that the Happier app is a work in progress, and sometimes we have to do things like remove some functionality you enjoy in order to update something else. We know some of you are already missing certain functionality, such as the ability to post multiple photo frames. We’re listening to everyone’s feedback, we promise! Some of the changes in this version may not be permanent, and some of your beloved options may return in future updates. Just keep letting us know what you love and what you don’t, and we’ll keep doing our best to make Happier awesome.

Have more questions or feedback? You can comment here on this post, or drop us an email at team@happier.com, any time.