BE MEASURING with the building blocks of positive shift to add happiness. (see links to resources at the Positive Shift Happens Toolkit) As I reviewed various frameworks for happiness, I realized that the practices that have been shown to increase happiness and well-being can be arranged to spell out BE MEASURING. Ironically, it is not usually important to measure them.
Systems that are simple and easy to use are usually best, and often a printable paper option will fill the bill. While it is important to measure what you want to manage, tracking a whole bunch of things can become tedious. However, if you enjoy using apps, many are gathered here that may be useful. As I’ve thought about ways to add more of these key skills into my life, I realized: 1) a simple checklist is probably pretty effective, 2) many of the keys to happiness are activities for personal development, and 3) it would sure be nice to have all of this incorporated into one Android app.
When I first wrote the Year of Personal Development series my focus was on free printable tools, but now many apps have been created that could be helpful tools to add happiness habits (and personal development) to your routine. I’ve been seeing a lot about the Happify app, which uses a S.T.A.G.E. framework to build five key happiness skills. Action for Happiness has an app as well.
The BE MEASURING building blocks:
Breathe Deeply (& sleep well)–Breathing deeply is a habit with many benefits. It was one of the most helpful things I did during a Year of Personal Development. It is helpful to remember to stretch and take several deep breaths about once every hour. (time: about 5 minutes)
- Apps: Apps at health.mil for military veterans are available free for anyone. T2 at Google Play. Breath2Relax includes a demonstration, stress rating, and cycles for deep breathing. There is also a very simple instructional app to learn how to breath deeply called the Tactical Breather App. They also have a mood tracker (see below) and some others I’d like to try out like the Virtual Hope Box. GPS for the Soul is an app from the Huffington Post that is now available on Android as well as iOS. The Living Well app is designed for men who have been sexually abused in childhood, which includes breathing and mindfulness meditations. For reminders, I simply use Google Keep. If you have problems with sleeping, White Noise Lite looks good.
Exercise (& eat a healthy diet)-Just a few minutes of exercise a day can release endorphins, but you can gain additional benefits with a longer workout. If you can spend some time outside, that is a mood booster too. See the benefits of exercise infographic from Happify. (time: about 30 minutes)
- Apps: Myfitnesspal is wonderful for tracking your diet and exercise, although I find it a bit tiresome entering all that information. See also Best Fitness and Exercise Apps at Healthline.
- Food Planner is the best app I have found for managing recipes and menu planning. It does take a bit of time and effort. If I need inspiration, I usually just flip through index cards with a picture of the main dishes we mostly have.
Meditate (& relax)-There are many benefits to meditation. (time: about 15 minutes)
- Apps: Take a Break from Stress with the app from Meditation Oasis. Choose between a 7 minute break and a longer 13 minute option. I sometimes use this app during my noon break. Relax Melodies is great (and fun!) for creating a variety of gentle sounds. See also Best Meditation Apps at Healthline.
Emotional awareness-Empathize with others, and notice your own emotions.
- Apps: T2health has a mood tracker which was designed to treat PTSD. You could get a baseline by tracking for a week, then introduce some habits proven to increase happiness to see how your mood is influenced. Benefits of emotional intelligence.
Aspire-Know your purpose and direction, and take action toward meaningful goals. (time: at least 5 minutes a day)
- Apps: Goals.com is a platform for goal achievement with many options. In my system, I simply include steps toward projects in my to-do lists and keep lists of goals and projects in Google Drive. Another app to try out: Chaos Control, which is a GTD Task List that includes defining your goals. Some possibilities use a stick rather than a carrot as incentive.
Share-Give to causes you believe in by volunteering or financially. Perform random acts of kindness. (time: about 2 minutes)
Uplift-yourself with positive music and thoughts, and others with compliments and kind words. Benefits of music infographic.
Relate-Spend time with people you care about, do nice things for them, interact with others.
- Apps: I may try the Gottman Institute app
Notice-Look up, be aware and mindful, pay attention, smell the roses, enjoy tastes, savor and appreciate life, etc. Plan activities and anticipate them, remember good times. Benefits of mindfulness and appreciation. How to: 10 Steps to Savoring at Greater Good.
Gratitude-start the day with appreciation, and end it by thinking of a few things you’re thankful for. In between, thank those you are grateful for. (time: a few minutes) Here are the benefits of Gratitude.
- Apps: I may try Attitudes of Gratitude or the Gratitude Journal. (iOS has a lot more options for this for some reason!)
Time to cultivate these happy habits
Happiness Habits add up to about an hour a day
- Uplifting music, thoughts, and words – anytime
- An act of kindness – about 2 minutes
- Gratitude – about 3 minutes
- Breathe deeply – about 5 minutes
- Take an action toward a goal – at least 5 minutes (more is good!)
- Meditation – about 15 minutes
- Exercise – about 30 minutes
Links to more apps:
- Best Healthy Lifestyle Apps at Healthline
- Positive Thinking With a Little Help from Your Phone at NYTimes
- Goal Setting Apps & Habit and Mood Tracking Apps (mostly iOS)
Have you tried apps for happiness and personal development that you like? Let us know at the Daily PlanIt Facebook page!