Is There an App for That? Measuring Your Emotional Well-Being
July 29, 2016

It’s normal for parents to what their children’s emotional well-being to be perfect and in tip-top shape. We’re always thinking, if we can just make them a little happier, they would excel more in school, with friends, and in life. But we can’t read their minds, which means we never actually know if they’re happy. But can we measure it or improve it? Let’s say…with an app?

An app for emotional well-being, aka “happiness”

Can we have happiness in our pocket through an app? The Atlantic recently published an article discussing an app called Happify. This app’s mission is to create “paths” for you. Every “path” comes with activities and games based on the app’s assessment of your “signature strengths” and general information. The goal is to improve your overall emotional well-being through these exercises.

So, can it work?

Well, let’s start with measuring happiness and if that’s possible. Will Davies, a senior lecturer of politics at Goldsmiths University of London and author of the book The Happiness Industry, says, “Of course you can measure happiness. Measurement is always a type of abstraction and a type of simplification, and you can apply it wherever you like. The question is whether it’s useful or not.”

Happiness is looked at by many people as the ultimate goal–especially by Happify. In the app, it kind of gives off the vibe that feeling negative emotions isn’t okay–which I don’t think is okay. Teens (and adults) should be very okay with feeling our entire range of emotions, it’s what makes us human. It’s whether we can control and cope with those emotions that’s important.

I think it’s naive to think that happiness equals emotional well-being. Emotional well-being is the ability to cope with negative emotions in an effective and constructive way–not never ever feeling negative emotions (that’s impossible). Thus, while Happify has gotten the discussion going on self care, I don’t think it’s a magic app that will make everyone happy and no one should rely on it like it is.

For more information about emotional well-being and helping your teen work through emotional and behavioral issues, check out BlueFire Wilderness.

BlueFire Wilderness Therapy is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17.

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