At a dinner with friends recently, the conversation turned to things that were stressing us out. Yes, it was one of those moody evenings. But it ended up being upbeat because someone asked the inevitable “I wonder if there’s an app for that” question. And it turns out there are lots of apps to help you think positively or aim at happiness, and we all had fun examining them on our phones.
Free on iOS
Happify is perhaps the most sophisticated positive vibes app available now. The idea of this free iOS app is to train you into thinking positively and feeling happy by engaging you in various “tracks” with different goals such as improving your confidence or seeing new possibilities. By playing through games and activities for a few minutes each day, the aim is to ultimately get into the habit of thinking positively.
Happify, which contends its technique is based on science, starts by asking you some thought-provoking questions about your life and your goals in using the app. Then it recommends some tracks for you, and within a few taps you’ve begun.
Each track contains bite-size quizzes, games, and activities that guide you to seeing more positive aspects of your daily life. For example, one may ask you to list things you’re grateful for at home, another will get you to notice positive words in a game where you lose points by clicking on negative words.
The app also regularly helps you assess your happiness level, that way pointing out how you can feel more positive merely by changing your habits. There’s also a community page in the app where you can see inspirational comments by other users and even upload your own — though you don’t have to use this page.
The app is fun and definitely draws my attention to the happier side of life.
Perhaps Happify’s only drawback is that while it’s free to download and use, access to its full range of activities costs $13 a month or $70 a year. It’s also only for iOS devices.
Other apps use a different route to developing positive thinking habits: repeated affirmation. These apps simply expose you repeatedly to motivational ideas, quotes, and suggestions.
Free on iOS
On iOS, Positive Thinking by TapCoder.com is a relatively simple attempt at this kind of app. It uses colorful imagery and very simple controls and has a list of motivational quotes and suggestions — everything from “do sports” to “stop thinking . . . sit there relaxed.” The app can even pop a motivational notification on your screen automatically at certain times if you choose. It’s extremely basic, and there’s not a huge amount of content, but you may find it has some good ideas and it is free.
On Android another app called Positive Thinking, this one by Juniper Islet, has a very similar goal but offers extras such as being able to add your own motivational quotes to its archive and to push quotes onto an Android widget so you can read them without opening the app. It’s also free.
Free on iOS and Android
If you prefer a more meditative approach to positive thinking, check out Smiling Mind, a free iOS and Android app. You enter data on how you’re feeling, using a number of slide controls that ask if you’re feeling “stormy” or “calm,” for example. Then you listen to a meditation-like voice track that talks you through different programs.
Depending on the goal of the program, like breathing control or body awareness, each track asks you to think about your habits or past in different ways. Clearly meditation is a very personal experience, and your mileage may vary, but I found the app fascinating and relaxing.
Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.