Happify is a fun, engaging, and highly interactive app that puts your well-being in your own hands. It is a personal growth app that gives you a wide variety of tracks, articles, meditations, and games, each of which deliberately helps you create more happiness with both your internal and external life experiences.
Curious? That’s a quality that will serve you well as you dive into this potentially life-enhancing app. Let’s explore what Happify has to offer so you can decide if this app is suitable for you.
What Is the Happify App?
Happify is a research-supported program designed to help you actively take measures to improve your overall sense of well-being and mental health. The app provides a wide variety of useful tools and information and puts you in charge of using them to change your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors so you can live the quality life you envision.
Happify lets you train yourself for happiness and resilience through life’s challenges by:
- Stopping and changing negative thoughts
- Decreasing anxiety and stress
- Building mindfulness and optimism
- Gaining confidence and self-esteem
This app offers tracks, which are comprehensive programs or courses full of information and activities to help you work toward goals. Tracks include:
- Personal growth
- Family and kids
- Work and money
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Health and well-being
Each of these categories contains numerous tracks, from 10 in “Family & Kids” to 29 in “Health & Well-Being,” that you can complete. You are in charge of your journey, and while the app will recommend a starting track for you based on a quick assessment you take when you sign up, you can choose any track in any category so your experience meets your needs.
Tracks are created by leading experts, therapists, and instructors or coaches in the fields of positive psychology and mindfulness. You’ll learn valuable information to apply to your own life, and complete many activities as you work through a track.
Activities include such things as guided meditations (there are more than 300 throughout the app) and interactive journal-type questions for reflections; conveniently, you type your response on the spot when prompted by the app. Many times, you can even upload photos that relate to the prompt. Your responses are saved, and you can revisit them again when you so desire.
Happify offers activities outside of the tracks, too. The Instant Play section contains games and activities like reflections and guided relaxations to train your brain and build happiness. You can play in categories that researchers have shown to correspond with happiness and life satisfaction.
These categories include:
The app also boasts a section called Happify Daily. This area provides articles, videos, and opportunities to participate in free events such as yoga sessions on Facebook live.
Happify keeps track of what you complete and shows you your progress. When you open the app, you’ll see your progress in your current track right on the home screen, and you can visit your profile to see a more in-depth look at what you’ve accomplished.
You can choose to keep your profile private, visible only to you, and use the app on your own. For those that prefer to interact with others, exchange stories and progress, share successes, and inspire as well as be inspired by other users, Happify offers a community feature. All users are welcome, and no one is pressured to participate. This app is a personal experience for you to embrace in a way that is meaningful to you.
Far from a quick-fix, band-aid approach that makes empty promises, this app is designed to make meaningful, lasting changes in how you see yourself and the world. The developers track user progress and satisfaction and assert that “86% of people who use Happify regularly report feeling better about their lives in about 2 months!” (Statement from the app’s “About” section in the Google Play store.)
The Science Behind Happify
Happify is based on the well-researched approaches of positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the three powerhouses of well-being. Positive psychology goes beyond merely minimizing suffering by dealing with problems, and instead focuses on building specific skills that are proven to help people thrive and flourish, to create and live the best version of themselves.1
Mindfulness is the skill and ability to live fully in the present moment and attend to what is happening around you rather than being stuck in racing, anxious thoughts about the past or the future.2 Cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach used by therapists and other mental health professionals to help people recognize and replace automatic negative thoughts that keep them stuck.3
Happify has also aligned with the Values in Action (VIA) Institute on Character to provide a scientifically valid and reliable assessment of users’ unique character strengths. Researchers in positive psychology have identified 24 different character strengths in six broad categories, and have shown that when people know and intentionally use their strongest virtues, they feel increased happiness and life satisfaction.4 Happify helps people identify their top strengths and find ways to bring the best of themselves to life.
One of Happify’s greatest strengths is that it is transparent. It shows you the research behind everything you are doing in the app. Brief and easy-to-read explanations tell you why an activity is valuable and what you have to gain. In some cases, there are even footnotes that link to references to show you the science behind the app’s offerings.
When you use Happify, you know that you’re getting quality help and are doing not meaningless activities but purposeful ones that will move you toward greater happiness and well-being.
Who Is the Happify App Right For?
Happify is great for anyone who is experiencing stress or unhappiness in one or more areas of their life and for those who are content but want to go beyond that to being fully present and thriving. If you want to enhance overall wellbeing rather than address a specific problem area in your life, then Happify may be the app for you.
Happify is also designed for those who are self-motivated and able to put in some time and effort. The programs require patience and persistence to work. It can be a great addition to professional therapy, although you do not have to be in therapy to use it.
Who May Want an Alternative to the Happify App?
Happify does relieve stress and anxiety and improve mental health; however, it may not be helpful for those struggling with a mental health diagnosis like major depression, an anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders, or a personality disorder unless you also have the support of a therapist or other mental health professional.
There is a lot to this app, and it can seem overwhelming. Its focus on creating more of what is right can leave those who are working to overcome things that are wrong, like specific mental health challenges, feeling frustrated.
It’s important to note that Happify is not designed to be used in a crisis. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of otherwise harming yourself or someone else, please call 911, go directly to the nearest emergency room, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Happify App Pricing
You can choose from two versions of this app: Happify and Happify Plus. You can access and use Happify free of charge, and while you do get only an abbreviated version of what Happify Plus contains, there’s enough quality content to keep you engaged for quite some time.
With the free version:
- Access 12 tracks
- Play some of the games and activities in Instant Play
- Read the articles and watch the videos in Happify Daily
- Participate in the Community
- Receive your top three character strengths and brief description after taking the VIA character assessment
If after exploring Happify’s free version you decide you’d like even more, you can upgrade to Happify Plus. Your paid membership will give you full access to everything in the app, such as:
- All activities in the 129 tracks
- Personalized tips and insights into your progress
- Comparing your skills to other similar users
- Every game and activity in Instant Play plus all power-ups in the games
- Your full VIA character strengths profile, with your five top strengths and a 20-page individualized strengths report
Happify Plus is costly. You can either pay the full yearly price of $139.99 upfront (it amounts to $11.99/month) or select their monthly payment plan of $14.99/month. This price does include the full VIA Character strengths report, a $50 value, although you can’t opt to decline the report for a reduced fee.
Happify Plus is more expensive than other mental health apps, such as Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace (each is less than $100 per year). However, Happify offers more overall than other apps, and has more depth and breadth to what is offered.
Unfortunately, Happify doesn’t offer a free trial of its Plus version. The free version, though, should be enough to give you a taste for what it’s like if you want to check it out; while quite limited, it does provide a decent sampling of the app. It might be wise to play with the free version for at least several weeks to ensure that the nature of this app is helpful to you and that it’s something you will actively use. If so, then it may be worth the price to upgrade to Happify Plus.
How to Get Started with the Happify App
Happify is user-friendly and easy to install on your smartphone or tablet. If you prefer, you can access it on your desktop or laptop through their website. After spending a few mere minutes creating an account, you’ll have access to the information and interactive activities and can be immediately on your way to taking charge of your well-being.
This is the process at a glance:
Download the app for your iPhone or Android device, or visit happify.com to use it on your computer.
Set up an account. It’s free to do so, and it’s a requirement. You can’t access anything without an account. The process is quick, though. It involves taking a simple assessment in which you provide your name and email address, gender, age range, and other simple demographic data. You’ll answer a few basic questions, multiple choice or rating-scale style. Your answers purportedly allow Happify to recommend a track for you to start with.
Complete an optional happiness check-in. If you skip it, you’ll be prompted to complete it the next time you log in. It’s easy to decline if you don’t want to do it, but it could be valuable to do if you want to track your progress over time. You get a baseline reading and then are offered a chance to retake it every two weeks. Tangible feedback can help encourage you to continue your journey to a happier outlook.
Take a test assessing your strengths. Like the happiness check-in, this is optional; it’s not required to use any part of the app. Consider it a bonus that helps you better know yourself and what you can do more of in your life to build on your natural character strengths. It’s free to do, and if you stick with the free version you’ll receive a partial report of your unique strengths profile.
Jump right in to the free version, or upgrade to Happify Plus. If you upgrade, you’ll enter your credit card information and immediately be charged for your first month or for the entire year, depending on which plan you select. From this point, your subscription is managed through your payment method, such as Apple or Google, or directly with your credit card company.
Happify tracks your progress to help keep you motivated. You’ll see your Track Activity Board on your homepage when you open the app, which shows you how much of the track you’ve accomplished and gives easy access to the next activities. You can check your profile to discover your total skill points earned over time and the areas in which you’ve been working to achieve them.
Pros & Cons of Happify Based on User Reviews
To help you further evaluate this wellbeing app and its potential for you and your life, here’s a glance at what users are saying. The app receives a high rating overall (an average of 4 stars among 2,400 reviews on the Google Play store and 4.5 stars from 2,500 reviews on Apple’s App store).
People who try Happify or Happify Plus and stick to it tend to be pleased with their own results. These statements paraphrase the most common positive remarks:
- Helps you truly examine yourself and your reactions to your life
- Changes the way you view stressful situations
- Improves your emotions
- Helps reduce anxiety
- Improves positive feelings and thoughts after a few weeks of use (many users mention three, four, or five weeks)
- Helps increase self-insights
- Great variety of tracks and activities
- Free content is sufficient
- A great way to start the day
- Helps you be more present in relationships
- A great alternative to social media (several reviewers mentioned that spending a few minutes on Happify is far more productive and uplifting than a few minutes on Facebook or other social media platforms)
Nothing in life is perfect, the Happify app included. While many do like, use, and benefit from it, it’s not for everyone. Some things people don’t like:
- Too expensive
- The free version is too limited
- Some of the activities are unhelpful, nothing more than useless distractions
- It takes too much time and/or work to see improvement
- It’s too complicated for people dealing with mental health challenges
- There are too many prompts asking you to unlock the paid version
- It’s hard to cancel and delete your account (you can’t do it directly from the app)
- Not enough games
- There are glitches and bugs
While reading about other users’ experiences can be valuable, the best way to determine if any app is right for you is to dive in and give it a try.
Happify vs Headspace
Headspace is a competing mental health app that focuses on meditation and mindfulness to help users achieve greater mental health and well-being. Meditation and mindfulness are approaches to inner peace that are thousands of years old, and they are also based in modern scientific research. Both Happify and Headspace offer sound approaches that can go a long way toward boosting quality of life.
Headspace focuses on things such as improving sleep, teaching breathing techniques to create and maintain calm, and reducing stress and anxiety. As such, its focus is more on fixing what’s wrong than on creating more of what is right, which is Happify’s emphasis.
Improving what is wrong and creating more of what is right are two sides of the same mental health coin. Some would argue that you can’t isolate these approaches because they move together. When you address one, the other responds appropriately. Therefore, both apps (which have equal scientific validity) can help people thrive.
It’s less a matter of which one is better than it is a matter of which one is better for you. If you are struggling with a specific issue, such as stress, anxiety, or poor sleep and are seeking to improve it, then Headspace may be the better choice. If, on the other hand, you are seeking to improve the overall quality of your life and your general level of happiness and wellbeing, then Happify might be more useful.
Final Verdict on the Happify App
Happify is a useful app to help you maximize your own strengths and utilize them to thrive. It doesn’t just tell you that it’s research-based but shows you the research every step of the way so you know that you’re spending your time in a beneficial way.
If you’re not facing a specific problem that you need to overcome but want to boost the good in your life, the Happify app is a fantastic choice. Because it is expensive, it’s advisable to experiment with the free version before deciding if it’s worth the investment in your happiness.