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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

            Technical writer

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            Published on November 28, 2018

            How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

            How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

            The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

            So how to do meditation?

            The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

            Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

            From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

            You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

            1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

            Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

            The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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            The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

            Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

            2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

            Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

            Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

            Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

            • Living things, such as plants
            • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
            • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
            • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
            • Furniture away from walls
            • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
            • Incense or something else that smells good
            • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

            Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

            3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

            In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

            However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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            In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

            Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

            Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

            4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

            Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

            Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

            Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

            5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

            At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

            Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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            We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

            This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

            6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

            As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

            Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

            If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

            If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

            7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

            What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

            Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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            1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
            2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
            3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
            4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
            5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

            As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

            Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

            You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

            Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

            You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

            Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

            You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

            You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

            As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

            Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
            [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
            [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
            [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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