We reached a pretty amazing milestone (smile-stone?) recently. The Happier community has shared 5 million smiles! That right there, that’s a serious amount of smiling.
To commemorate this awesome achievement we contacted our 5 millionth smiler, the very happy Adrienne. And while, more than anything we wanted to make it rain down buckets and buckets of actual confetti in her house, we instead opted to offer her complimentary registration for our brand new Everyday Grateful course, starting in January.
And because here at Happier we are all about science (don’t believe us — check this out) and fun (hopefully you already know that part), we leave you with a fun 5 million-related fact.
We have 5,000,000 smiles. If each smile were a pat of butter, that’d be enough butter to sustain a person (2,000 calories/day) for 219 years!
Whoa. That’s a lot of butter. But let’s stick to smiles Thanks for helping us get to the first 5 million, here’s to many more, awesome smile-stones ahead!
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:
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
Happier community, we want to know what makes you happier and we’d love for you to tell us – in a very short 10-20 second video!
All you need is your computer or iPhone. Your answers can be anything – you can tell us what makes you happier, show us, play a musical instrument, do cartwheels, anything at all. You can ask your kids what makes them happier. Your friends, your family or your colleagues. It’s entirely up to you!
What are we going to do with your videos?
We’d love to share them with our community to inspire others to think about what they are grateful for in their lives. And we’re working on creating a video that includes many, many folks sharing what makes them happier. This is what Happier is all about – focusing on the positive in our lives, capturing what we’re grateful for – and we think a video like that will inspire many people to do it.
What do you do once you have your video?
Simply email it to us to email@example.com. We will be in touch from there. Please send your videos to us by Friday, December 6th.
And now, for some awesome inspiration, check out this great video from one of our Happiers
It’s that time of year again — the time of year when most people are living the famous line from Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Starting with Thanksgiving and barreling straight through Christmas and into New Year’s, people everywhere — young and old, single and married, happy and sad — are making plans to spend time with their families. Some will drive to the next town over for a quick visit; others will travel across the country or halfway around the world — filling highways and train stations and airports as they make their way home to reconnect: to share meals and gifts and time with families they don’t often see.
For some people, the holidays are filled with uncomplicated joy and happiness — gift-giving and cookie-baking and matching-footed-pajamas! For others, the holidays are filled with stress and angst and sadness. For them, the holidays don’t look or feel anything like that Norman Rockwell painting. For them, the holidays are emotionally complicated and difficult to manage.
So this year, if you’re one of those people — like most people are — instead of spending the holidays counting all the ways in which your unhappy family is unhappy in its own way — instead of rolling your eyes at every bad sweater and every drunk uncle and every semi-hurtful-remark; instead of counting, on the fingers and toes of both hands and feet (and the hands and feet of everyone in the room), every grievance and complaint — however justified! — instead of falling down the usual rabbit hole of holiday misery and depression, why not try something different:
Use what you’ve learned all these months using Happier and find the small positive moments in your holiday visit.
For some of you, this will be easy — so easy, it might threaten to ruin your holiday because you’ll be so busy focusing on all your happy moments your family will complain that you’re not paying enough attention to them! But for others, you’ll have to dig deep to find those moments. You’ll have to look past all the old wounds and try to find beauty and love and peace in other things: a safe flight home; the perfect crust of an apple pie; a Butterball turkey perfectly cooked, even though the stupid thermometer-thingy was broken and didn’t pop up.
Instead of suffering in silence about the big things, try expressing gratitude aloud for the little things: Thank your mother for making your favorite green bean casserole (even if it’s really not your favorite but she just thinks it is); thank your father for a warm fire well-lit; thank your spouse or your partner for making the trip home with you and for enduring your family’s eccentricities and idiosyncrasies with grace and patience. If you do, you’ll be able to rewrite Tolstoy:
All happy families are boring; each unhappy family is interesting in its own way and can be made happier by focusing on really really really small positive moments during holiday visits….
(And for a laugh, here’s an Xtranormal Video I made last year about Thanksgiving: “Hello 1-800-Butterball? My Turkey Is Fine, But My Family Is Killing Me!”)
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.)
- 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.
- Go 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.)
- 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.
- Have 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.
- 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:)
We have some really, super exciting news for you guys, but first, a story that will restore your faith in humanity and make you realize that yes, people are really, really awesome.
Yesterday, to little fanfare and to just “test the waters” so to speak, we quietly announced the launch of a first of its kind “Jumpstart Your Gratitude” Happier course. A 21-day challenge that will 100%, absolutely change your perspective to a more positive one.
We quickly started seeing happy moments mentioning the course, but one in particular, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, became something much bigger.
Within minutes of Autumn’s happy moment being posted we got an email.
“Would it be possible for me to pay for Autumn to take the course, anonymously? I’d like her just to be happy knowing it was taken care of by a friend. “
And before we could even respond with an emphatic, “YES!!”, this amazingly caring member of our Happier community just went ahead and booked the course in Autumn’s name. At this point our office suddenly became a little “dusty” and some eyes started to water a little bit.
And then we saw this:
Just wow! To say that we were humbled by this amazing act of kindness is an understatement. And Autumn wasted no time in keeping her promise to pay it forward. You can read her blog post about her awesome Thursday here.
Thank you, Happier community, for being as incredible, supportive, and yes, awesome, as you are. You guys rock!
- – -
And yes, we do have a Happier course which is the other bit of insanely exciting news we wanted to share.
You can check it out here: