Happier: The Happy App


Illustration by Liz Noftle

Facebook might be making you miserable, according to a recent German study of 600 users of the site. Thirty percent of respondents reported that peering at other people’s pages made them envious, and nearly 40 percent said they felt frustrated after visiting the site. Instead of boosting our quality of life, in other words, social media seems to actually be making us unhappier.

Nataly Kogan doesn’t think it has to be that way. Earlier this year, Kogan launched Happier, a Fort Point–based company offering a new app rooted in the science of positive psychology. The goal is to help users find more happiness in their daily lives, by encouraging them to capture moments of joy as they happen and share them with others. “Being able to look at other people’s happy moments makes you more positive,” Kogan says.

Here’s how it works. Users are prompted to share a trio of pleasant moments via the app every day. That’s because research has demonstrated that when people focus on three positive moments a day, they experience a demonstrable boost in happiness. The act of smiling alone releases endorphins, so the app encourages users to literally smile in response to friends’ posts: When they see something they like, they can use the app to take a picture of themselves smiling, and send it to their friend. Sharing is the key, Kogan says, because good cheer is contagious. According to the Harvard medical sociologist Nicholas Christakis, one person’s happiness, in fact, can increase that of others by 8 to 34 percent.