Whether you love technology or loathe it, you can’t ignore its presence in our lives, but how does technology affect our happiness? Can it be something which makes us happier? Beyond the fun of having the latest gadget, tech can boost your happiness, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Technology has been a powerful force on our society, most recently with the rise of the Internet and the Information Revolution. This can make it harder to escape from work and increase our fear that we are being monitored without our consent.
But that same technology can also be used to help us be happier and healthier.
1. You can find a happy vibe with a meditation app
Modern technology can cut us off from others, but you can exploit this to find some calm by manging your time better using any of the excellent meditation apps. A pair of decent headphones and the right app can help you to escape from the noise and bustle.
Apps such as Headspace provide structured and accessible meditation routines which can help you to develop your mindfulness over the long term, as well as providing a refuge during a busy day.
Meditation is not a new idea, of course, but technology can be used for wellbeing and makes it easier to access and use on a daily basis.
2. You can use technology to help others
Perhaps the best way for you to use technology to find happiness is to not pursue happiness itself, but rather to help others. This may sound odd, but it is an idea based on sound science.
Happiness is a practical emotion which has helped us to evolve by rewarding us when we have done something which increases the likelihood of our surviving or thriving. One of the key things humans do to thrive is help each other.
A website like GoVolunteer enables non-profit organisations to connect with people who have specific skills and want to volunteer. This model is similar to Do-it.org in the UK, and it can enable you to do something valuable which results in you feeling happier. Everyone wins.
3. You can track your happiness with technology
One powerful strategy for approaching happiness is to train your brain to find happiness in things for which you are grateful. Technology can help with this.
Whenever you learn something new you are literally building new connection between brain cells, and over time you can effectively reprogramme it to think or feel differently.
Each day, perhaps just before you go to bed, try making a list of the positive things which have happened to you that day. It can be a good idea you had, an interesting conversation, something you ate or even good news about someone you care about.
With an app like Gratitude you tap in the things that have enriched your life that day, and then you can access the list whenever you want. This helps to train you brain to record and recall positive experiences, which helps you to experience happiness more often and more easily.
4. You can use music to help you find a happy place
Music is a primal concept for humans, and enjoying it has been shown to be a hugely positive experience.
Technology has advanced to the extent that we now have access to millions of pieces of music via our mobile phones.
There are times when it is great to unplug yourself, but there also times when listening to that favourite track or finding a new musician is sheer joy. Technology also opens new musical doors, allowing you to quickly find music which is similar in style to something you already like.
As well as the apps and phone technology, developments in noise-cancelling headphones make the experience even more comfortable and enjoyable.
5. You should choose your technology wisely
If you feel uncomfortable with providing personal information to websites or apps, you have a growing range of options.
This is important because finding a website or product you need without platforms like Amazon or Google feels almost impossible, and you usually have to give up some information about yourself to make them work.
The good news is that technology is now available to push back this need to exchange your personal information for services. The Tor browser is one example, as it uses a system of anonymous relays to make it harder for websites to know who you are. Similarly, the DuckDuckGo search engine does not collect information about users.
You can use these emerging platforms to take back a bit of control; it’s not about hiding away from technology, it’s about having a measure of control.
6. Have a dream book to keep happiness close by
One of the best ways to achieve happiness is in having achievable goals, and in keeping those goals in mind. Technology gives you a wonderful opportunity to set out those goals and keep them close.
Try writing out your dreams and hopes, and then finding image which represent them. Save those images to a folder on your tablet or mobile, and use it as an inspiration when you feel low or just need a little motivation.
This idea of a dream list is not a new one, but applying technology gives it life and immediacy. Referring to it regularly also trains your brain to recall positive images, and that promotes happiness.
7. Tech advances can actually help us learn
Training your brain is a part of finding happiness, but this doesn’t have to be just happiness-oriented training like a gratitude diary or dream book.
Education and learning are wonderful ways to keep our minds open to new ideas, which helps to reduce the risks of mental illness and instability.
Technology means we can have apps on our phones to learn about anything from a new language to medicine or the capitals of the world. Often these apps use gaming reward techniques, such as levelling up, to encourage us to learn even more.
We live in a world which is often defined and limited by technology, but there are real ways in which that technology can really help us to be happier. Don’t feel that you have to unplug completely to find real happiness.
Alessio Bianchi is a lifestyle blogger who is passionate about living his best life and helping others to do the same. Read more at his blog https://www.alessiobianchi.co.uk/
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