3 ways to use tech to find happiness

3 ways to use tech to find happiness

When people talk about happiness and social media / technology they often do so in negative terms. That is, social media and technology are often seen as detractors from happiness and wellbeing, things that distract us from the “real world” and from “real happiness”.

But I’ve never felt that to be true. There’s NO DOUBT there can be a dark side to tech and to social media, especially with things like overuse and social comparison, but there’s also no doubt, in my mind anyway, that there can be lots of good if we use these amazing advances in the right way.

Which is what this great Fast Company article by Mike Rucker is all about …

The pursuit of happiness is as old as consciousness itself, but the actual desire to be happy seems to be burning brighter than ever before, especially for young professionals. For example, Harvard’s “happiness” course is one of the most sought-out classes among its MBA students. Young entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones seeking happiness, however. High demand across all groups has given birth to a variety of apps and gadgets with the promise of improving our mental well-being.

While much of this emerging technology is built with good intentions, there is growing concern about whether or not many of these apps are truly helpful.

The idea of measuring and improving happiness didn’t start with tech. Psychologist Ed Diener invented the concept of “subjective well-being” in 1984 to gauge where someone’s respective happiness ranks against others. The construct of subjective well-being also provides a point on a scale used to see if any particular happiness intervention has an effect. To rank and scale happiness using technology, a person usually answers questions through an app or web page, and then the data are used to spit out a quantified measure.

Although the new range of “happiness tech” likely benefits some, the category isn’t without problems. Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking of using technology to improve your happiness.


Technology can be a great way to support self-improvement and build healthy habits. However, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that too much concern about happiness can be counterproductive. Researchers like Dr. Iris Mauss (University of California, Berkeley) have studied individuals who perseverate on happiness. The researchers’ conclusion: People overly concerned with their happiness often become depressed.

Daily push notifications, as well as metrics to compare your efforts against others, cause users to become fixated on why they are not good enough rather than spending energy on finding joy in the moment. Neuroscientist Sam Harris coined this pitfall “spiritual materialism” and removed the streak counter within his popular app, Waking Up: Guided Meditation.

The problem: Insights we derive through data can be counterproductive if they are not relevant to the behavior we are trying to improve. This occurs when they are served to us too frequently or do not do much to move us toward our goal. Dr. Jordan Etkin of Duke University has studied the folly of over-quantification. As Etkin explains, “People think the data is going to be valuable for them, and if they have easier access to the data, that alone will make things better. That is not always true, so it’s potentially a recipe for some really unhappy times.”

The solution: Make sure the app serves your needs and not the other way around. Turn off notifications and only concern yourself with the data that truly leads to betterment. Since happiness is a multifaceted construct, make sure whatever technology you invest in is well-aligned with the specific area you are trying to improve…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE