Android, meet Happier!

Well, first, Happier, meet Tony, who is one of our awesome developers and who has some pretty great news to share today:

This is Tony. Like all of us at Happier he loves giraffes. A lot.

Hi Happier community!

Today marks the first day that you can officially download Happier from the Play Store, and boy does it feel good!

While you may not be able to take your favorite course on the go yet, you can collect and share your happy moments and stay connected with our awesome community that makes Happier what it is! We’ve spent a good deal of time making sure all of the basics are there, so you’ll be able to do things like keep up to date with your friends, browse featured moments, and smile and comment at the things that made your day just that much brighter.

 Of course, with all new apps, there are going to be some small issues that have slipped through the testing cracks, but we’ll be keeping a close ear to the ground and make sure that the Happier for Android becomes the app that we would all want it to be! (We are always really excited to hear from you — yes, even when it’s to report a bug — so keep your feedback coming to team@happie.com.)

So what’s up next then? I’ll be working on search and notifications. Because these are quite big tasks, I can’t give you a shipping date yet but I promise they’ll be out soon! Once that’s done and we’ve added some of the community features our users love, I can start tackling courses and make sure that you can really get the full experience of Happier on Android!

Thanks everyone for being so patient with us on this and I’d love to give a big, huuuge thanks to everyone who joined as early beta testers. You guys were a great help and were absolutely fantastic at pointing out every little bug that I’d missed during the early stages of development.

Until next release!

Tony (and the rest of the very excited Happier team)

Living Happier with Nataly: The awesome of travel

Relaxing has never been one of my strengths. In fact, not being able to relax is one of my weaknesses: left to my own devices, I usually work myself into exhaustion. There’s plenty of science that proves taking vacations, even short ones, has huge health benefits, both physical and emotional, but even that hasn’t always been enough to get me out of the office and on the way to a relaxing vacation. As funny as it may sound, I’ve had to think of ways to make taking time off easier.

One of the things I love about Happier is that I get to share the small simple lessons I’ve learned in my own life with you, so here’s how I made my recent off-the-grid vacation one of the most stress-free and positive breaks I’ve ever had:

  • Say it out loud.  I told my friends, family, and the team that I needed a break. Like, really needed a break. Going public and being open about it was awesome. Everyone encouraged me not to feel guilty about taking time off and helped me cover all the bases while I was gone. Making it a group effort helped me worry less and disconnect more. Which made me way happier.
  • Commit to unplugging. To really relax and get the full benefit of being away, I knew   I’d have to completely unplug this time. That meant getting myself removed from all work emails beforehand and staying off all social media (though I was allowed to post moments in Happier :) ….but just a few…). Instead of making up an excuse to justify my absence to others, I wrote an honest out-of-office email that said I was away because I needed a break and that I wouldn’t be checking emails on vacation. I also asked anyone trying to reach me to shoot me an email right after I was back if what they needed was time sensitive (which made me feel less panicked about missing something critical).
  • New routines. I changed my vacation-routine completely — including no super-early morning walks, trying different foods, taking time to read actual books which is a luxury — all to maximize “brain chill-out.” Doing as many different things as possible is the best way for me to disconnect from regular life because it helps me get into a whole new mind space.  As I hoped, it worked wonders this time.

When I came back, I felt more refreshed and organized — and happier — than I had in a long time. I wasn’t surprised that my vacation would be great for me, but what did surprise me was how great it was for my family and my team at Happier to have me return so calm and rested (you can email team@happier.com and ask:).

natalyvacationIf you need a break, take one. It’s not selfish. It’s a way to nurture yourself and give the best version of yourself to everyone around you.

 

Happier Hearts: Getting organized in style

Staying organized makes me happier — and keeps me sane! — so I wanted to share my 3 absolute favorite organizing products with you:

Cord Control….

Built Cargo Travel Organizer

Like sherpas to Mt. Everest, most of us carry everything we need for work everywhere we go. We tote laptops and tablets and smartphones — and all the cords that go with them — on planes, trains, and automobiles. Keep your mobile office together with this perfect pouch that holds all your electronics’ accessories in one place.

71TJ7QToN3L._SL1500_

Everything but the kitchen drawer…

MadeSmart Drawer Organizers

A well-organized kitchen drawer means cooking remains a pleasure instead of turning into a frantic and frustrating hunt for a lost measuring spoon. (Or garlic press.) (Or vegetable peeler.)

MadesmartDrawerOrganizers_x-1

The (rubber) grass is always greener…

Umbra Grassy Organizer

You can make a tooth-brushing lawn with this organizer, but I use it for pens on my desk. It’s a fun way to organize them while adding some color (other than orange) to the office. (Added bonus: it always makes me want to take my shoes off and run barefoot through real grass.)

Unknown

Being organized reduces stress and creates more time to do the things you love. Like looking for fun cool organizing products!

Living Happier with Nataly: An anti-stress treat

Happier Friday!

Wait, is it Friday? Because, for me, this feels like one of those Mondays-on-a-Friday. Have you had one of those days?

Last week I did something I haven’t done in a really long time: I went on vacation and did not look at my email. Zero. Nada. (If this doesn’t sound like a big deal, believe me, it was for me. Running a start-up usually means I’m on 24/7.)

It was AWESOME. But when I came back earlier this week I felt like an avalanche hit me — catching up on email, work stuff, team stuff, home stuff has been pretty overwhelming. Which is why this Friday feels more like a Monday.

gooseberries-cherriesI have this rule where when I feel UGH in the morning — stressed, tired, grumpy, overwhelmed (you know, UGH) — I try to find a quick pick-me-up. I love fruit, and I especially love summer fruit, so I packed myself a container full of cherries and gooseberries, and devoured it first thing after I got into the office.

It was a small treat and a super-tasty one. I’m smiling now as I write about it! And while it didn’t remove all of my stress or deal with all of the endless emails screaming for my attention, it was a tiny happy moment that made this Monday-on-a-Friday a little more awesomer. (Awesomer totally is a word; just ask my 10-year-old daughter.)

I hope you make time for a quick treat for yourself this weekend!

Cheers,
Nataly, Happier co-founder & CEO

Happier Hearts: Lifefactory glass water bottle

Nataly's water bottle momentBeing happier has nothing to do with having more stuff, but I’ve learned that having a few things that make you smile is awesome. Once a week I’m sharing a find – or a few! – that’s making me smile. Here’s what I’m loving this week:

This is my favorite water bottle. I don’t really like water, so I got a fun bottle that looks awesome to inspire me (and trick me!) into drinking more every day. It’s glass, BPA-free, and orange (my favorite), so every time I see it and fill it up, I’m reminded that healthy habits don’t have to feel like hard work.

Takeaway tip: If there’s a healthy habit you’re having a hard time sticking to, find a way to make it fun. Finding a happier water bottle inspired me to drink more water more often!

Behind the scenes of Happier Courses (literally!)

There are a lot of times when I wish we could take our entire awesome Happier community and bring all of you into our Happier HQ or behind the scenes of what we’re working on. The day we shot our course videos for Meditation Vacation and Everyday Yoga series was one of those days: I really really really wish you guys could have been there.

Instead, I took a lot of photos and wanted to share just a few impressions from what was, for me, personally, and for Happier, as a company and a team, a really freaking amazing day.

First, our awesome experts: Dave Romanelli and Chrissy Carter. You ever meet someone and feel like you’ve known them for a long time? That’s how I felt hanging out with these inspiring, funny, and fun people. We had a blast shooting our interviews, changing outfits so the cinematographer and director could decide what worked best in the light, and talking about everything from yes, yoga and meditation and what it means to us and how we each discovered it, and our fave NYC spots.

photo(1)

(Can we also just agree that they look like they are brother and sister?!)

Next, Josh Seftel and his amazing team, whom we’re lucky to have as our production partners for the videos. I knew it took a lot of people to shoot video but whoa, we had one serious crew: camera people, producers, director, sound, lights, and several awesome assistants who were kind enough to sit in for the takes so I and the experts could chill out while the crew set up the set.

photo 1

IMG_4616

I was asked to bring a “few” outfits for the shoot (I am in two of the videos, doing the interviews with our experts to kick off each course). This, of course, meant that I brought a suitcase of clothes, that I wheeled around rainy, cold NYC, up and down lots of subway stairs. Being told that “I could go up with the best like Barbara Walters” totally made it all worth it. (Well, that, and the fact that Josh, our awesome director, and his cinematographer, both approved my outfit choices and made feel kinda awesome.)

photo 4

(To be honest with you, seeing myself close up on camera is completely terrifying.)

The crew worked from 6am until about 10pm, with just a short break for lunch. It is incredibly hard work to shoot just a few short videos and I have a completely new deep sense of admiration for people who create movies and videos we enjoy.

I am so excited about how the courses and the videos are coming together and really grateful to have a chance to work with such talented, inspiring people. One of the things that makes the (yes, really stressful and challenging and roller coaster-like) gig of running Happier completely awesome is a chance to meet great people and have so many new experiences. Our first day of shooting videos for Happier Courses is one I won’t forget.

photo 2(1)

 

Everyday Grateful Course launches in Happier!

EGIt’s a big day here at Happier: We’re really excited to announce that we’ve just launched Everyday Grateful, our very first Happier Course, right in the Happier app!

When spreading happiness is your mission, it feels like there’s always more to be done. We’re really proud of the start we made with the Happier app, and then we moved on to the first Happier course, Everyday Grateful, to offer a guided tour of sorts to those wanting more assistance in cultivating the happiness habit. It’s only been a couple of months, but the feedback on the course has been humbling.

I’m getting so much out of this course, not least because at the moment, I’m going through some hard stuff in my life. Your daily reminders help me stay focused on being as grateful as possible every moment, because bad stuff is transitory but the happy stuff sticks around. This is a big deal for me because it’s changed my entire outlook on everything: I don’t worry as much, I sleep soundly and I’m a much more positive person now.

-Hannah

I could each day’s task really quickly but realized it had a lot of impact. I notice now when I am becoming grumpy and can stop it before it gets worse.

- Tracy

Great feedback is awesome (OK, to be honest, it’s amazing and means so much to us!) but wanted to see if we could make the course even better. And I think we have.

Everyday Grateful is still:

  • A 3-week interactive course designed to cultivate the “attitude of gratitude” which research proves makes you happier and healthier
  • Chock-full of tips and advice (practical and never preachy, pinky swear) to help you focus on the positive

  • Videos, inspiration, and guided activities designed to increase your happiness in just a few minutes a day

  • Supported by a coach you can reach at any time (just shoot me an email!)

In addition, Everyday Grateful is now:

  • Accessible through the Happier app on your iPhone whenever and wherever you like
  • Perpetually available — go back and repeat activities that really spoke to you, do the whole course again as many times as you like (how you use it and pace yourself is up to you)

  • Enhanced with new content (based upon user feedback and the latest research; we take our happiness seriously!)

We’re offering the new and improved Everyday Grateful for just $24.99. Think about it; for the cost a week’s worth of lattes, you could be cultivating a lifetime of increased gratitude (which, in turn, means greater overall happiness). We’re so sure you’ll love it, it comes with a full money-back guarantee, too.

Thank you for being part of our amazing Happier community and I hope you’ll join us for Everyday Grateful!

A Gratitude Resolution to kick off 2014 (and introducing Happier Courses!)

I love writing things down – in a notebook, with a pen :) – and I still have the notebook in which I wrote down the first idea of what I wanted Happier to do:

“Help people be happier. Encourage them to do more of what makes them happier. Inspire them to improve different parts of their lives without feeling pressured to make dramatic changes. Make improving your life something that’s fun to do, not a chore.”

I remember how excited I was at the opportunity to build a company that could do this. (Also intimidated at the challenge of doing it — getting people to change behavior is insanely difficult and promising someone that we will make them happier sets a really high bar.) We decided that we would start with a simple, fun, and social mobile application to encourage people to notice, appreciate, and share small everyday moments that made them happier. Thousands of scientific studies have shown that practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to feel more positive, optimistic, and less stressed, and even has important health benefits like improved sleep and reduced anxiety.

We released our iPhone app in February of 2013 and wow, we’ve been blown away by the response from our users. We’ve gotten thousands of emails, cards, and even hand-written letters from people all over the world, telling us how Happier has changed their lives for the better, inspired them to become more grateful, positive, optimistic, and significantly less stressed. There is a lot still to do and every day we are working hard to make the Happier experience more awesome, easier to use, and more engaging, and we are fueled by knowing that we are on our path to building something that can truly positively impact people’s lives.

Almost from the day we launched we started hearing from many of our users that while they enjoy using Happier, they would like more guidance from us to help them develop a more grateful mindset. They told us their lives are busy and they don’t have time to go read some of the books and research that inspired Happier or that while they would love to improve certain areas of their life, they aren’t quite sure about how to do it. We had always envisioned one day extending the Happier platform to offer more guided experience so hearing this feedback encouraged us to think about this even more.

And today I am psyched, thrilled, and excited to announce that we’re launching Happier Courses! Our vision is to create interactive, mobile, 1 to 3 week courses that combine daily activities, inspiring videos and other content to help people learn and practice new ways to become happier and healthier. We will work with leading wellness and lifestyle experts to bring their expertise to our users in a brand-new interactive format. Happier Courses will never be preachy or boring — we want them to be something you want to do instead of something you feel you need to do. And we are designing them to fit into your busy life because we believe that improving your life should be something you do while you’re living it. (We are working on courses in everyday meditation, improving your dating mojo, a personal style makeover, and more that we will be launching in the next few months – so get excited:)

skitch_iphoto.export.skitchOur first course is Everyday Grateful and it’s taught by yours truly. It’s a 21-day interactive course to help you develop a more grateful mindset and start on a path to feeling more positive, less stressed out, and more optimistic. More than 11,000 studies have shown the positive impact of gratitude on your outlook and health and that science is the foundation of the course. It’s been incredibly fun to design and I’ll go as far as to confidently say that I think it’s as fun as it is meaningful. (Oh, and it comes with our limited-edition Make Your Life Happier Kit!)

Everyday Grateful kicks off on January 6th (you’ll be able to sign up at any time after that as well, but January 6th will be the first day) and we timed it this way for a reason. New Year is when many of us make resolutions and we wanted to inspire you to make a Gratitude Resolution: to find something or someone to appreciate and feel grateful for every single day in 2014. I hope you’ll give this a shot and if you do, I can promise you that it will change your life. Becoming more grateful and appreciative of the small things and experiences I encounter every day and expressing thanks to people in my life changed my life a few years ago and inspired me to start Happier. It’s so simple and yet so incredibly powerful.

Happy New Year and here’s to a more awesome — and grateful! – 2014!

Happy New Year from Happier!

 

 

 

How our Happier community turned me from feeling bitter to feeling insanely lucky

It’s 4pm on Friday after Thanksgiving. Having spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, we came to stay with our dear friends for a few days.

As I write this, the kids are playing upstairs and the adults are drinking wine and eating snacks in their awesomely relaxing living room. I am in the kitchen, where I found a plug close to the counter, and I am working. I have been working for the last 3 hours without taking a break and before then, I was working — on my phone or laptop, whichever I could get to easiest — from the car on our drive down to Thanksgiving, at night after everyone went to bed after the big turkey dinner, and early in the morning before everyone got up.

As an entrepreneur I work all the time but during this holiday weekend I was starting to feel really sorry for myself. I wanted a break. I wanted to not worry about anything for a few days. I wanted to turn off my work email and not check it. I wanted to not think about raising money or scaling user growth or prioritizing features or any of the other 100 topics that race through my brain at any given minute. I wanted to eat too much, drink too much, hang out with family and friends, watch stupid TV, and not worry about anything. And I caught myself feeling pretty bitter about not being able to do this. (I read this blog post by Michael Carney about why holidays for entrepreneurs can be anything by happy and my neck hurt from emphatic nodding.)

While feeling bitter and sorry for myself, I clicked over to Twitter and saw this tweet, from one of our awesome Happier users:

skitch_iphoto.export.skitch

I am not sure there are actual words I can find to describe how it feels to be able to create something that can impact people’s lives in a positive way. My fellow entrepreneurs will know exactly what I mean — it’s a magical feeling.

After thanking Neil I went back to cranking through my emails, where I found an email from another user, sharing with me how Happier has helped her gain a much more positive perspective on life after she went through a difficult few years. A few emails down was an email from one of our users who just signed up for our brand new gratitude course and was so excited to take it she wanted to make sure we got her email correctly.

And this is when I realized that instead of feeling sorry for myself I should be feeling really freaking lucky.

Yes, being an early-stage entrepreneur is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done — and this includes immigrating to the US and becoming a mom, both of which have challenged me in so many ways I am not sure I get it all yet. It is an endless emotional roller coaster, an endurance run that tests you in every way you can imagine and more, and it’s also just pure hard endless work. It’s exhausting and there are no breaks.

But to have a chance to create something, from scratch, that actually can impact someone’s life in a positive way, that can help people be more optimistic and with that optimistic mindset do more in their lives that makes them feel awesome is incredible. And I get to do it for a living. I am the lucky one. Tired, in need of way more sleep, but really damn lucky.

So on this post-Thanksgiving day, this is my thank you to my team, investors, advisors, friends, family, and most of all, the amazing Happier community, for being part of my feeling this lucky. And if you’re a fellow tired entrepreneur wishing you could have a little less crazy or stress or work in your life — which we all do, if we’re honest about it — ask yourself in what ways you’re lucky to be doing what you are. My bet is that your answer will make you happier :)

I’m a crazed, busy startup CEO. Here are 5 habits that keep me sane and make me happier.

Let’s get this out of the way first:

Just because I run a company called Happier doesn’t mean I’m naturally, without any effort, happy. Not at all. Running an early-stage startup and juggling that with being a mom, wife, daughter, grand-daughter, friend and well, a woman who also wants to have more than a second of time to herself, is freaking hard. I stress a lot, I have totally off days when I just want to go hide under the covers, and there are many days when I am not sure how to get it all done.

But I am lucky: I’ve spent the last few years living and breathing research on happiness and I get to be part of the amazing Happier community every day. I have learned a LOT about being more positive and optimistic, managing my stress, and yes, being happier, and I want to share some of my favorite happiness habits with you. (I don’t think you need to be a crazed start-up CEO to find these useful but if you are, I think you will.)

  1. Write down at least 3 things every day that I am grateful for. OK, I don’t write them down, I capture my happy moments in our Happier app, but it’s the same idea. Mountains of research shows that practicing gratitude has incredible benefits for our overall well-being — from helping us be more positive, joyful and optimistic, to feeling less stress and anxiety. And you do have to actually practice it by writing down what you’re grateful for; just thinking it is not enough. I have two types of days: On some I share my happy moments throughout the day; on others, I share them at night, in “bulk”, before I go to bed. Both work, just depends on how much running around I am doing.
  2. IMG_3128Go for an early morning walk. I get up at 6am every day and go for a 3+ mile walk. I do it in the sun, rain, freezing wind, and even snow (I think I skipped a few huge snow storm days, but that’s it). There are days when I think I’m half-asleep when I start walking but my body just goes. For me this is like my daily meditation. I listen to music — not news — I move, I breathe. I travel a lot and try to get a walk in on business trips as well, although this is more challenging. Having this one daily ritual that doesn’t shift due to schedules, that’s just there, always, is incredibly helpful. It anchors my day and gets me started on the right foot. (Plus getting your heart pumping and getting fresh air have been shown to lead to less stress and more positive thinking.)
  3. Get one thing done before I check my email. This is a hard one but makes a huge difference. I try to get something done on my to-do list before I open my email — which also means no mindless email checking in the car or while getting stuff done with my family in the morning. Research says being productive makes us happier and I can absolutely attest that days when I stick to doing this are better and less crazy stressed.
  4. IMG_3129Have small fun family traditions to anchor the week. I work a lot. My husband works a lot. Our awesome nine year-old kiddo has a lot of activities. So our week is pretty nuts. I realized a while back that having rituals — even really small ones — that we can all look forward to, helps a ton. For example, on Friday nights we do sushi and a movie together. On Tuesdays I get home for dinner with our daughter and it’s quesadilla night. Every morning I put a small note with a sticker into her lunchbox — it’s 30 seconds during which I smile and think about her day and 30 seconds when she opens her lunchbox and smiles. Our family traditions aren’t complicated, but they are huge for keeping us all saner and happier.
  5. Always have one thing on the calendar I’m looking forward to.  I try to schedule a lunch or dinner with a friend, catch up with my parents, or have a plan for something fun with my husband and kiddo at least once a week. Having it there is a great pick-me-up if I’m having a rough day and it’s just fun to look forward to. (Which science says is actually a thing — looking forward to good experiences makes us happier. When you plan a vacation, for example, the anticipation and the planning make you as happy – or sometimes happier – than going on it.)

I’d love to hear about your favorite happiness habits, small or big. Someone called me an expert on happiness the other day and it bugged me — I don’t think anyone actually is. Being happier is a way of life, and like with everything else, I’m always learning, just like you:)