A behavioral researcher Mike Rucker details the problems and solutions to the most popular technology to increase your satisfaction.
The desire to be happy has been around as long as the concept of consciousness itself; however, the desire to be content appears to be more intense than ever, especially for professionals in the early stages of their careers. For instance, Harvard’s “happiness” class is among the most popular courses among MBA students. Young entrepreneurs aren’t alone individuals looking to be happy, However. High demand from all kinds of groups has led to the development of numerous devices and apps to improve our mental wellbeing.
Although a lot of this new technology was developed with positive intentions, there’s an increasing question of whether or not some applications are helpful.
The concept of measuring and improving happiness didn’t begin with technology. To measure and rank satisfaction through technology, a person generally answers questions using an app or a website that collects data to calculate the quantitative measurement. Psychologist Ed Diener invented the idea of “subjective wellbeing” in 1984 to measure the level of satisfaction of a person in comparison to other people. The concept of subjective wellbeing is also a point on a scale that can be used to determine if a particular happiness-related intervention is affecting.
While the latest range of “happiness technology” will likely benefit some, it’s not free of issues. Here are some points to consider if you’re contemplating applying technology to enhance your happiness.
DO NOT DISTURB YOUR JOY FOR THE SPIRIT of HAPPINESS
Technology can be an excellent method to help you improve yourself and help establish healthy habits. However, an increasing body of research suggests that excessive worry about happiness could cause adverse effects. Researchers such as Dr. Iris Mauss (University of California, Berkeley) have studied those who focus on the idea of happiness. The researchers conclude that people obsessed with their happiness are often depressed.
Every day pushes notifications and measures to gauge your progress against other people, leading users to focus on why they’re not good enough instead of enjoying the present. The neuroscientist Sam Harris coined this pitfall “spiritual materialism” and eliminated the streak counter in the app he is known for, Waking Up: Meditation Guided.
The issue is that the insights obtained through data may be detrimental if they are not pertinent to the behavior we’re trying to improve. This happens when they are fed often or cannot advance us towards our desired goal. The Dr. Jordan Etkin of Duke University has examined the folly of over-quantification. According to Etkin, “People think the data is valuable for their benefit, and if they can access the data, it will improve the situation. This isn’t always the case and could be the recipe for some miserable times.”
Because happiness can be a complex concept, Ensure that the technology you purchase is compatible with the specific field you want to enhance. Ensure that the app meets your requirements and not the reverse. Disable notifications and focus on the information that leads to betterment.
Be aware of bad science.
Most of the technology that promises to make us happy is created as consumer products. They are typically designed to meet the promise with a lot of effort. However, designers of these products also acknowledge that they compete to get our attention from other apps that we use on our smartphones. This is why some of these apps are built using gamification engines. It is possible to receive a notification, “Hey, you did well this week. You met your twice-a-day gratitude goal. The next week, let’s increase it to three times!” The designed pressure generally diverges from the research that the app was built upon and can cause harm. It creates a false dichotomy between trying for the app to be a success while doing other things that are likely to bring you happiness. In the above example, the over-prescribing of habitual gratitude could result in users being more unhappy than when they first started.
The issue: For happiness technology to be practical and effective, the science under the hood must be solid. Many mental wellness apps begin with a solid foundation, but when they get overengineered, the team behind the product forgets the primary research or either.
The answer: If the app is claiming to be scientific, you can use Google Scholar to review the research conducted. If the app is not conforming to the scientifically sound, look at other alternatives.
Find the right tool for the JOB.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to happiness technology. However, it doesn’t mean that it won’t help. Here are a few things you could think about to ensure your choice is a good choice:
- Does the item or service coincide with what you want to accomplish?
- Are the user experiences adaptable to allow you to hide information you don’t want and also disable notifications that you don’t need?
- Is it based on solid research?
The issue: There’s an ever-growing market for tools that claim to increase the quality of life, making it harder to figure out what technology is most suitable for you.
The paths to happiness are as individual as ours, and there is no single application or device is suitable for every person. The answer is to test your purchase before purchasing. Be aware of policies on returns and trial periods to make an informed purchase choice.
Happiness isn’t a mountain to climb or a game to take home. If you’re planning to use technology to enhance your wellbeing, be sure not to allow technology to get in the way of having fun.