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5 Apps to Make You Feel Truly Happy Even If Life Is Hard Sometimes

5 Apps to Make You Feel Truly Happy Even If Life Is Hard Sometimes

Fact: Life is stressful. Another Fact: It does not have to be.

In a sad statistic, only 1 out of 3 Americans can say they feel truly happy [1]. This means the other two are either depressed or general ‘meh.’ These unhappy feelings are certainly valid in difficult economical times. It gets harder and harder to find work every day, and the bills and payments associated with adulthood don’t slow down just because your paychecks do. People also feel unhappy when a relationship ends or becomes challenging. There are plenty of explanations as to why we are all so bummed out.

We live in a crazy world full of obligations, responsibilities and time frames forever-shortening with the advancements of Technology. Picking up your beloved cell phone can be a great distraction throughout the day, but did you know there are certain apps that can help you to feel happier and less stressed?

Nearly two-thirds of Americans can say they own a smart phone [2], so read on to find out how you can make your phone work for you.

Why our recommendations can be trusted.

Social media and content platforms can be tricky to navigate. Often times, influencers across the web are paid to advertise a product. This doesn’t automatically mean they wouldn’t use the product otherwise, but the line blurs. The apps that will be featured in this article have either been used by us here at lifehack.org, or we have researched the app and paid close attention to the reviews. This isn’t a sponsored ad, so don’t worry about getting conned out of $0.99. Besides, I prefer free apps myself.

I became interested in happiness-inducing apps as soon as I realized they existed, but I was also well-aware I needed them. Have you ever noticed how anxious you can feel after scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? It’s so common to come across a picture of your ex with their new partner, or see a friend you’ve been arguing with getting coffee with your frenemy. Sure, it seems petty, but that doesn’t make it any less true; it’s hard to not be bothered by things when they’re directly in your face. So I’ve found apps you can install to split your time between chaos and stress and meditation and bliss.

If you go to the app store and search ‘happiness,’ you will be inundated with thousands of apps. So where do you start? We’re going to list out our top five happy apps that we have used and love, and the highest rated. These apps will be rated on their uniqueness, price, usability and appearance.

Headspace

I’ve used this app and I really enjoy it. It’s short meditations which is great for beginners who don’t yet know how to quiet their mind. There are levels to ensure you slow down and truly do one at a time, but each guided meditation session lasts only 10 minutes. The narrators voice is calming and steady which helps keep you focused.

     Uniqueness: 8/10

    My favorite unique feature is the SOS option. If you just had a stressful argument with a coworker or partner, you can go to the SOS screen and choose a topic to get you back on track quickly.

     Price: 10/10

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    This is a free app!

     Usability: 9/10

    I think this app is super user-friendly when it comes to navigating and also accessing in general. Because the meditations are short, it’s easy to carve out ten minutes of the day to listen and be still. Sometimes I’ll listen before bed to drift off to sleep easily. And as a side note, it has an incredible 5 star review on iTunes.

     Appearance: 10/10

    This app is clean, attractive and fun. The colors are vibrant without being loud, and the animation is adorable. The app is happy to look at, and makes you feel happy!

    Happify

    This app offers activities and games to help with stress. It’s a new app and only has a handful of reviews, but they’re five stars so far! I’ve got this app on my phone and it’s such an interesting approach. You don’t just sign in and start, you fill out a questionnaire and it finds the right tracks for you. It provides customized games and activities that focus on happiness and positivity. It’s easy, customized and fun!

       Uniqueness: 10/10

      I appreciate how personal this app is. It helps me feel like it’s really focused on my happiness and not ‘general’ happiness.

       Price: 10/10

      It’s free!

       Usability: 8/10

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      It does require some reading and tutorials. None of it is complicated, but you can’t just download and know what to do right away.

       Appearance: 7/10

      Some of the graphics aren’t super impressive, but ultimately it’s a colorful app that’s easy to read.

      Happier

      This app aims to do exactly what it sounds like: make you happier! This app connects with Apple Watch, and you can allow the app to randomly send you happy quotes. The app also serves as a gratitude journal. More so, you can take expert-led, short courses to discover new ways to find joy. You can keep your account info private or share your gratitude with other users.

         Uniqueness: 7/10

        This is such a neat app. It takes all the best elements of social media (sharing happy photos and positive interactions) and adds meditation, boy, community and more.

         Usability: 6/10

        You can connect with Facebook to quickly create an account, and I find that super convenient. It also allows you to invite contacts to grow your own little community of real life friends and family.

         Price: 10/10

        It’s free!

         Appearance

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        This app also uses lots of bright orange to keep everything positive. The graphics are nice and the lines are clean.

        Stigma

        This is a great app if you are more concerned with documenting your mental health rather than meditating or finding courses. This app allows you to track your mood and anxiety which can really help to pin-point what triggers your unhappiness.

           Uniqueness: 10/10

          I think this app deserves such a high score because it takes a unique approach to your own daily experiences.

           Usability: 10/10

          Easy to understand and easy to reflect upon.

           Price: 10/10

          It’s free!

           Appearance

          Clean lines, calming colors, easy-to-read font.

          10% Happier

          Honestly, this one has to make the list because I think it’s so funny. This app is specifically targeted at “fidgety skeptics” and boasts “no robes, no crystals.” Everyone should have access to meditation and happiness, not just the metaphysical yogis. The 5 star rating clearly proves people agree.

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             Uniqueness: 10/10

            This app is 100% unique in its approach to mediation and making this app attainable to everyone.

             Usability: 10/10

            It doesn’t get simpler than this.

             Price: 10/10

            It’s free!

             Appearance: 6/10

            It’s not the cutest app, but it serves its purpose.

            Have you tried any of these apps? Do you have an app not featured on this list that you swear by? We want to hear about it!

            Reference

            More by this author

            Heather Poole

            Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on October 30, 2019

            How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

            How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

            Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

            In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

            Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

            You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

            What is the Stages of Change Model?

            Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

            Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

            Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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              The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

              The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

              The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

              The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

              1. Precontemplation
              2. Contemplation
              3. Determination
              4. Action
              5. Maintenance
              6. Termination

              How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

              To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

                Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

                Stage 1: Precontemplation

                At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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                For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

                Stage 2: Contemplation

                At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

                You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

                The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

                Stage 3: Preparation

                At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

                Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

                Stage 4: Action

                When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

                Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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                Stage 5: Maintenance

                After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

                Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

                Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

                Stage 6: Termination

                Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

                However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

                How long does each stage take?

                You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

                So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

                The limitations of this model

                The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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                Require the ability to set a realistic goal

                For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

                If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

                Difficult to judge your progress

                The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

                Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

                Conclusion

                The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

                While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

                Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
                [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
                [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
                [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
                [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
                [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
                [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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