Happiness is a universal pursuit for humans, and somehow always tantalizingly out of reach. These websites and apps help you find ways to be happy through science and practice.
The United Nations marks March 20 as the International Day of Happiness to recognize this as a goal that both people and governments should go for. While you and I can’t control how a government will behave, we can control the happiness in our own lives.
The ways are many, like understanding what makes us happy through an online science-backed course, or getting daily happiness tasks, or new techniques in meditation. Find that sparks joy in you, and hold on to it.
1. The Science of Happiness (Web): Free 6-Week Online Course and Podcast
The University of California Berkeley has an entire research center dedicated to the roots of compassion, happiness, and altruism, called the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). The GGSC’s Director and Science Director put their findings into a six-week course to teach positive psychology and the principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.
The Science of Happiness is a self-paced, free MOOC available on EdX. Through the course, you will learn the GGSC’s findings on how social connections and contributing to a greater cause are central to happiness. It also teaches practical strategies and lessons to put this into daily use to foster happiness in yourself and those around you.
Once you finish the six-week course, you can continue learning more about happiness in The Science of Happiness podcast. Released fortnightly, it deals with the latest research-tested strategies to build happiness, along with useful tips like a regular “happiness practice” to bring joy in your life.
2. Tracking Happiness (Web): 9 Best Ways to Be Happier
Tracking Happiness is an incredible resource to find out different studies, advice, techniques, and other information about happiness. Founder Hugo Huijer has tracked happiness in his own life and come up with a method that can work for anyone. The idea is to give your happiness a rating from 1 to 10, and track it on a regular basis. You can read more about it on the website in his own words.
Huijer has also created the most comprehensive article on happiness that we’ve come across online. Amassing 150+ articles and tips, the How To Be Happy: Complete Guide dives into what happiness really means to you, and how to achieve it. The team at Tracking Happiness has distilled the advice of several experts into the nine best ways to be happier. Each point in this mega-guide is backed by research and examples, but written in simple terms for anyone to understand and implement.
It’s a long read, so you might want to convert it into a PDF or ebook to read it offline later. You can also explore other ways to send websites to your Kindle.
3. Feel Better (Android, iOS): Happiness Sessions and Mood Diary
Feel Better reckons that the modern mind isn’t trained to switch off easily, so the need of the hour is changing moods quickly. When you want to feel happy, try one of the different focused happiness sessions on Feel Better.
For example, it will ask you to list five things you are grateful for, and then start a 30-second focused session to reflect on your list. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. But you can continue to the next step and fantasize, taking five minutes to list your ultimate dream life. Or move your body, or list five desires, and so on.
Essentially, Feel Better is giving you a reason to get out of your current mood and focus on a happier state of being. The Inspiration tab similarly serves videos to spark happiness, laughter, and joy.
Feel Better also works as a mood diary, asking you how you are feeling each time you start it. If you sign up for the app, it will also track your mood history and provide insights and statistics.
Download: Feel Better for Android | iOS (Free)
4. Action for Happiness (Web, Android, iOS, YouTube): 10-Day Happiness Course, Social Network, and Daily Task
Action for Happiness is an organization trying to build a happier society. There are multiple ways it is tackling this issue, and they’re all worth checking out.
The 10 Days of Happiness free online coaching program is, as the name sounds, a 10-day email course. You’ll get a new research-based activity every day that promotes a sense of satisfaction and contentment. And when you’re done, you write a response to that activity.
The Action for Happiness app offers a daily happiness task or reminder. Each month has its own theme (like Mindful March or Friendly February), and you can download these colorful calendars for free. The app also acts as a social network for a community of happiness. Share your feelings of joy, sorrow, gratitude, or anything else, and you’ll find others with a happiness-oriented outlook to share with you.
You should also check out the Action for Happiness YouTube channel, which regularly holds events with famous motivational speakers, happiness advocates, and others trying to spark joy in everyone. On the channel, Author Vanessa King also delivers a monthly short video for the theme, as well as other videos with practical tips.
Download: Action for Happiness for Android | iOS (Free)
5. The Happy Habit (Web, Android, iOS): Happiness Training and Unique Meditations
Meditation teacher and philanthropist Fleur Chambers believes happiness lies in reminding ourselves to be happy from within. It’s a habit that you need to develop slowly, almost retraining your brain. Chambers created The Happy Habit, a series of online courses, audio training, and apps to help you cultivate happiness.
You can get a taste of what Chambers offers through her 13-minute audio training sample, which is a talk on happiness and a guided meditation. Her calm, soothing voice explains how you need to figure out a path to happiness from the inside, rather than seeking external stimulus, and goes over a few methods for it. If you like what you hear, you might want to sign up for one of the three paid courses.
The Happy Habit app is a series of happiness-oriented exercises. While technically called meditations, it’s not like other meditation apps to achieve calmness. Happy Habit has three parts: Create, Explore, and Grow. Create is the audio-guided meditation that you’re familiar with, and encourages you to try it as a 10-day habit challenge. Explore turns meditation into a writing practice, asking you to take a pen and write your way to happiness. Grow is a series of meditations for different types of needs. Each section has a few free elements and a few paid ones, and you can look to buy the app if you like the free bits.
Download: The Happy Habit for Android | iOS (Free)
Social Media Makes You Unhappy
Many studies have linked social media usage to unhappiness. From constant bad news and information overload to unrealistic and toxic comparisons, social media makes us believe the worst far too often.
The apps and sites in this article do their best to put you in a happy state. And it’s more important than ever as you can’t really escape social media in this day and age. If you can’t switch off social media, at least having these tools can help.