Which app changed your life

The 5 best happiness apps to increase your wellbeing

What are the best happiness apps out there? Rae Bathgate picks the top five that you want to bring to your home right now.

This article was originally published in the English happiness magazine.

Apple coined the phrase: "There is an app for". And it's true, many of us now rely more than ever on our smartphones and apps. There are apps for music, dating, sports, health, transportation, learning new languages, and even tuning a guitar. But what are the best apps for getting happier?

There are tons of happiness apps out there these days. How do you know which are the best? Below, I'll explain five of the best science-based happiness apps and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

The best happiness apps are primarily free (at least for a trial period). Many also use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the basis for their concept. Of course, the functions of the apps cannot be compared to an hour-long talk therapy with a counselor. In CBT, however, apps can work to help change your thought patterns by changing your behavior patterns through repetition. This can be helpful, for example, when you are trying to break away from constant brooding.

Who uses happiness apps?

There are various reasons why self-care apps are a positive addition to your life and can help you on your quest for happiness. They are more common than you think and people already tend to use their smartphones (now an extension of their own personality) to learn more about their minds and to be more in tune with themselves.



Tip on luck: Which is the right happiness app for you?

According to Nature Around 29 percent of the “disease-specific mobile health apps” are geared towards mental health. For example, there are the apps PTSD Coach or for more severe mental illnesses FOCUSaimed at users with schizophrenia. While these two apps don't exemplify why the average happiness seeker would use a happiness app, they still show some of the benefits.


Can an app make you really make you happier?

To start with, the best happiness apps are especially helpful for those on a tight schedule because they are always available. After all, you never know when you might need help. The apps also interact with the user in a positive way. Just as the constant notifications or updates from social media can be stressful, having reminders of a task or a brief prompt to confirm your wellbeing at the right moment can help you feel much better.

"In CBT, however, apps can work to help change your thought patterns by changing your behavior through repetition."

While not all apps are free, many are well below the cost of a mental health professional. In addition, the stigma of seeing a specialist unfortunately still persists. Some other benefits of happiness apps:

  • You can use it anywhere;
  • If you use them as often as you hold your smartphone in your hand, you are using them very regularly;
  • They can remind you to be happier when you don't think about it;
  • Many of them are cheap, if not free.

Of course, it's important to remember that while these apps are a great way to work on the day-to-day fronts towards achieving better mental health and establishing healthy habits. But even the best happiness apps can in no way replace a visit to the doctor or simply interpersonal contact and exchange.

You can think of these apps as vitamin supplements - nutritional supplements are practical but can never replace the original. Now, in no particular order, here's our pick of the best happiness apps out there.

1. Happify

Android: free iPhone: free

Happify is available as a website and app and claims for itself:

  • Increase happiness through fun activities and games;
  • To be able to help you learn science-based life changing habits;
  • Reduce stress and build skills for happy, healthy lives.

The Happify app has several "scientifically validated courses" that are proposed to you after you have completed a short questionnaire with information about your life and health. Each course has a theme and is divided into (usually four) parts. These are then broken down into activities that range from guided meditations to reflective writing assignments to fun games. The number of courses available depends on whether you choose the monthly subscription or download the free version.

Happify: a colorful insight into this happiness app


For users who are more oriented towards social exchange, there is a community page with inspiring comments from other users. You can also add your own to brighten up someone else's day. We are especially happy about that, since it has been proven that it makes you feel happier. There are 58 “main activities” to get started with, and different variations, for a total of 1,200 different activities.

These activities were designed with the help of a professor of psychology and range from asking you to write down what you are generally looking forward to to what you would like to do for a friend. Next to each of the 58 activities is a “why it works” icon to learn more about the science behind the fun games. Your happiness status will be queried every two weeks.

"While not all apps are free, many are well below the cost of a psychiatric specialist."

The experience reports for the Happify app were positive overall. In fact, 86 percent of app users reported that they felt more satisfied with their lives after just two months of testing. Many reported feeling more motivated and productive, suggesting the app can help build positive and helpful habits that set the stage for more confident and happier lives.


The Happify app allows you to practice a lifestyle

Users can also access Happify Daily, which has free happiness-related content, as well as the Happify community and forum. And when you're sure that the app is right for you, you can unlock the full range of activities and reports by subscribing to Happify Plus.

So here are the reasons why you should download the Happify app:

  • It helps you to become more resilient to stressful experiences;
  • It will help you build healthy habits that are tied to positive thinking;
  • Since the memory of happy experiences already releases happiness hormones, you can increase your well-being by creating a digital scrapbook that reminds you of sunnier times when you are not doing so well.

2. Happy habits

Android: free of charge iPhone: not available

The description of the Happy Habits app states that it is based heavily on the principles of CBT and contributes to "creating the conditions for happiness and satisfaction in [the user's] life".

At the beginning a test is carried out, consisting of 119 different points, in order to evaluate the satisfaction of the user based on 14 factors. The app then manages the results and gives suggestions on how you can create better conditions for being happier through games and soothing audio files offered by the app.

Another feature of Happy Habits is emotion training in the form of audio files. These should help to be able to deal with emotions better, to perceive them more consciously and to take a more positive attitude towards them. This workout is best when you are overwhelmed by anger, sadness, or stress.


Happy Habits: a little insight into the structure of this app

At moments when you feel particularly anxious, you can listen to relaxation audios to ease the anxiety and practice more relaxation. For those who want to learn more about the concept of “striving for happiness”, the “Choose Happiness” audio book is available. And if you like ticking things off a list, the Happy Habits app offers you a customizable happiness to-do list.

The best happiness apps are primarily free (at least for a trial period). Many also use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the basis for their concept.

Like most of the best happiness apps, this one is gamified, which means that the playful elements are used to make it more fun to use. You not only complete tasks, but also collect points and can thus track your own progress.

Users who like to write and want to put their thoughts on paper can look forward to the fact that the app also has a happiness diary ready. In this you can write down confirming experiences and record positive events that you can look back on later. Happy Habits' design is a little retro but uses positive colors like yellow and orange and is customizable.

Here's a summary of why you should use the Happy Habits app:

  • It is based on CBT, a method that has been shown to help with depression and anxiety;
  • It offers a variety of soothing audios that you can listen to in the car, on the bus, or at home;
  • She's putting together a scrapbook of gratitude to look back on when you need to cheer yourself up.

3. SuperBetter

Android: free iPhone: free

Building resilience - the ability to stay strong, motivated, and optimistic - even in the face of change and difficult challenges is difficult. However, the creators of the SuperBetter app believe that using their tools will unlock your heroic potential so that you can overcome difficult situations in order to achieve the goals that matter most to you.

The heart of SuperBetter is the 'Live Gamefully®' method, in which the psychological strengths and ways of thinking from games are turned into reality. The method encourages personal growth as a result of stress and change. That's why the app is called SuperBetter.

One key to happiness is developing resilience. It is important to get back on your feet after challenges and setbacks in life, but it is far from easy. SuperBetter simplifies the process by guiding you through a series of activities that will help you build resilience while reducing anxiety and depression. This should ultimately contribute to a happier life.


Feels great: SuperBetter founder Jane McGonigal

The SuperBetter app gamified the steps to get happier. Short and simple activities are created for you to complete as you embark on the adventure of gaining new happiness-finding skills. You win when you complete the individual activities. At the beginning, simple activities serve as a jump start in order not to lose interest.

With SuperBetter you become the hero of the app as you gain points and strength by following and completing daily activities. Simple tasks, such as a walk or a glass of water, count as small steps towards the big goal. You can also play through the app with a secret identity and a superhero story of your choice. With SuperBetter you can collect power-ups for your adventures, fight off bad guys and get help from allies.


One of our favorite happiness apps: SuperBetter screenshots

Another special feature of the SuperBetter app is that its mode of action is scientifically supported. A study from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found that people who played SuperBetter for 30 days experienced many positive changes. People's moods improved, symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased, and self-confidence in achieving goals increased.

Here's a summary of why you should use the SuperBetter app:

  • It's playful and fun;
  • It will help you build resilience, adopt new habits, improve skills, and strengthen relationships;
  • Research has shown that it produces positive results.

4. Happier

Android: not available iPhone: free

Happier is an Apple app with one mission: to make sure you enjoy your life to the fullest. The app was developed by Nataly Kogan, a TEDtalk spokeswoman who emigrated from Russia at a young age to escape the oppression in the Soviet Union and had to go through difficult times. Her family eventually got on their feet on the Detroit projects.

Allegedly, Kogan vowed to find happiness and tried the pursuit of success and fortune first. Understandably, this didn't get her where she wanted. So she turned to her father's field of work - science - to find out what steps to take next.


The Happier app: an overview

In practice, it looks like the app helps you “be more present and positive throughout the day” by acting like a platform for appreciating your life or a personal life coach. Every day you are asked to write down what you are most grateful for. Be it the sunshine on your face, a moment that you have spent with your loved ones, a wave of green traffic lights or your favorite ice cream - you can also add pictures to all of this.

These are moments that you might not have noticed without Happier. With the app you can “create, collect and share these little positive moments.” You can use Happier in various ways, for example to lighten your mood, take a meditation break or enjoy the moments that make your day happier.

"The Happier app helps you to" be more present and positive throughout the day "by functioning like a platform for appreciating your life or a personal life coach."

The Happier app is of course portable and can also be used on the Apple Watch, where it functions as a diary of gratitude. There are also short, expert-led courses to teach users more about the practice and science of happiness on which the app is based. Topics such as strength, calm and gratitude are addressed.

In addition, Happier acts as a kind of socia media platform for happiness, on which you can establish a connection with your fellow human beings (if you want; you can choose to share publicly or privately) and be inspired by the thank you contributions of others. Something that makes Happier special is the invitation to think about happiness, but not about a feeling but rather about a muscle to be trained that you can rely on in everyday life.

The app currently has over a million members so it has to be doing something right. The good news for Android users is that a version of the Happier app is currently being developed and should be released soon.

Here's a summary of why you should use the Happier app:

  • Instead of selling you unreachable happiness, it helps you appreciate what you already have;
  • To keep a picture you can easily update your gratitude scrapbook;
  • It will help you learn more about the science behind positive psychology.

5. Yolife

Android: free iPhone: free

More like a newcomer to the happiness app scene, Yolife describes itself as “your personal advisor to help you live longer in good health”. Indeed, the vision of Yolife's founders is to add 15 healthy years to the lives of at least one million people around the world. And what does good health bring you? More happiness and satisfaction, of course.

After you have registered with your own login or Facebook, you will receive detailed health advice from Yolife in the first phase. To do this, you answer questions about your health, your habits, your physical activity and your social life, among many others. Your answers will determine how many more healthy years you have in prospect.

Love life: Yolife wants you to live longer and healthier lives

In addition, you will receive a scientific explanation for each question answered and you will have the opportunity to read more on a topic. In fact, Yolife is carefully research-based, using clinical studies and advisory boards as sources. The design is modern and sleek, with a refreshing sense of humor in the texts too.

After completing the survey, you can see how many healthy years you can expect to have. Building on this, in the next step you will receive a personalized activity program that aims to further increase the number of healthy years. It helps you to find out in which areas you have the greatest potential for improvement. The program includes courses on topics such as optimal sleeping conditions, the meaning of life, the health benefits of sex, different types of fasts, and many more.

"The vision of the Yolife App is to extend the lives of at least one million people around the world by 15 healthy years."

Yolife co-founder Tassilo Weber has his own definition of happiness, which is very present in the app: “I am not only an entrepreneur, but also studied philosophy and still consider myself to be a philosopher at heart. Therefore, the pursuit and definition of happiness has always been an important topic in my life and that influence cannot be overlooked when using the Yolife app. "


The Yolife happiness app has a clear, simple design


“There is even a full session called“ A Formula for Happiness ”. It boils down to two things: 1. Find and make sense. 2. Stay healthy as long as possible. Luck has the best chance of thriving on these two pillars. Since Yolife is an app that helps you stay healthy longer and be guided by a purpose, I see the resulting happiness as one of the most important values ​​that we want to offer at least one million people. "

Here's a summary of why you should use the Yolife app:

  • Science-based suggestions for practical life changes;
  • Track your progress and growth;
  • Sleek, modern design and great colors.

The best happiness apps: a conclusion

Of course, using these happiness apps alone won't be enough to change your life. If you spend too much time on your smartphone - even with happiness apps - you won't have time to put what you've learned into practice.

However, there is scientific evidence to support the assumptions made by these programs. For example, a meta-analysis of 51 “positive interventions” found that they “significantly improve well-being and reduce depressive symptoms”. These include those used in the apps, such as mindfulness activities, writing gratitude diaries, and setting goals. In particular, one of the main ideas - listing the positive things in your life - has been proven to be a method of making you happier.

We invite you to try what we believe to be the best happiness apps to find out what works best for you and what makes you do the little things that make your life better. Let us know in the comments below which one helped you the most! ●

Did you like the article? Find out more about the free offer of the happiness project:
Our mission: Facilitating a safe and mutually supportive community where tools, practices, and experiences are shared that enable everyone to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Specifically, this means for you that as a member of the happiness community you can enjoy the following benefits free of charge:

You cannot escape the ups and downs of life, but you can learn to deal with it more consciously, to accept it and thereby to gain inner freedom.

Become part of the loving community of open-hearted people today and register now.

Written by Rae Bathgate

Rae Bathgate is an American journalist living in Barcelona. Here she enjoys the sun, practices yoga and enjoys her hobby, bookbinding.