Happiness Game

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This is a game that will make you happier the more you play it.

You don't have to be depressed to play it - we could always be more happy, right?

Warning: the creator of this game has no therapeutic qualifications or credentials, other than that he's read a few books. (Listed at the bottom.) Still, the game works for me. YMMV.

IN FACT - I'd recommend reading The How of Happiness (http://www.amazon.com/How-Happiness-Scientific-Approach-Getting/dp/159420148X) first, trying the practices in there, and then - if you want more variety - trying this.


  • Go to http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu and take the CES-D Questionnaire. Get yourself an account there, or write down your score.
  • Bookmark this page.
  • Every day, when you have several minutes of free time, come back here. You will be given an Activity. Do it. (By the way, there's a bug I haven't tracked down: if you get a nonsensical result for your daily activity, just refresh the page.)

Your Activity For Today

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1, Give Yourself A Gift Today
Don't plan it, don't wait for it, just let it happen. Could be a nap, could be a new shirt, could be a cup of coffee. Savor it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPkNtg3Fvwk 1, Give Someone Else A Gift
Flowers, something off their online wish list, a coffee drink ... or do a chore for them ... their laundry, their dishes ... 1, Go To Or Throw A Social Event At The Earliest Opportunity
Game night? Grilling in the back yard? Pub night? Dinner out with friends? Church? Club? 1, Go For A Walk
The weather doesn't matter: sun, rain, snow. Dress appropriately. Enjoy it. 1, Get Some Exercise
Get your heart rate up. Don't forget to stretch. 1, Fight Negativity
What's the last negative thought you had about yourself, someone, or something? Divide a sheet of paper in thirds. Write the negative thought on the left. Write what kind of irrational thinking it is in the middle: all-or-nothing thinking? mind reading? prophecy? minimizing? maximizing? mental filter? Write the truth on the right. Repeat - sometimes one negative thought leads to another. For more information on this process, read Feeling Good. 1, Forgive
Write a letter forgiving someone: could be a friend you feel betrayed you years ago, could be someone who cut you off on the freeway yesterday. Forgiveness doesn't mean you condone their behavior; it means you're going to let it go. In the letter: write what they did; write what you wish they had done; imagine why they might have done it, try to put yourself in their shoes; and say you forgive them. You don't have to send the letter. For more on this process, read the How of Happiness. 1, Engage In A Flow Activity
Whatever it is you do that makes time fly and the rest of the world disappear - playing a videogame, playing a sport, reading a book, programming, browsing web forums - do it for a while. 1, Read or Re-Read a Chapter From A Happiness Book
See list below. 1, Tell Someone About This Game
If you've noticed this game making you happier, tell someone about it. Or blog about it or otherwise link to it. Or e-mail me, Jamie, at jdfristrom at gmail dot com, and tell me that it's really working! Otherwise, reload the page and choose a different activity. 1, Add A New Happiness Practice To The List
If you've only been playing for less than 2 weeks, refresh the page and get another Activity. Otherwise, get an account here, edit this page, and add a new practice to this list, new book to the bibliography, or otherwise make this game better. 1, Count Your Blessings
Write down five things that you feel grateful for. Could be mundane (you found a good parking spot yesterday) to sublime (you took a moment to smell the roses), an event or individual who helped you or changed your life, last week or years ago. If you've done this activity before, try not to repeat yourself. 1, Write a Thank You Letter
Write a letter to someone you feel grateful to; tell them why, what they did that improved or changed your life. You don't have to send it...but it would be great if you did. 1, Meditate
Find a quiet place to just sit for several minutes. Focus on your breathing, count, or subvocalize the same word to yourself over-and-over. Don't think or mull over problems, but if you find yourself thinking, don't beat yourself up about it, that's the way minds are. Just go back to focusing on your breathing. 1, Laugh
Do something you know will make you laugh, like watching a funny movie or show. 1, Write About Your Future Best Self
As per p. 108 of *The How of Happiness*, write about your best possible self: where you hope to be one or five years from now, assuming everything has gone right, as you hoped. (If you've already done this one in the past few months refresh the page and get a new activity.) 1, Add To A "Happy" Playlist Make a playlist of positive, upbeat songs. (Mine includes 'Success' by Iggy Pop, 'Peaches' by the Presidents of the USA, 'Faith Hope Love' by King's X, 'Give Up the Funk' by Parliament, and 'Trip Like I Do' by the Crystal Method, for example.) Or add to it, if you already have one. Then listen to it. 1, Go to Bed Early Tonight Like maybe a whole hour early. 1, Take a nap </sgtable>

If You've Already Done A Happiness Activity Today, That Wasn't Assigned

That's great, but that was extra credit. Do this one too.

If You've Already Done This Activity

It happens - I'll often get exercise, or do a flow activity, or laugh, or socialize without being told to. In that case, I refresh the page and do something else.

If You Don't Feel Like Doing It

This is Resistance. Resistance wants what is bad for you. You can use Resistance to tell what is good for you. Fight it. For more on Resistance, read 'The War of Art' by Steven Pressfield. http://www.amazon.com/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles/dp/0446691437

Once A Week

  • Take the same test you took before, and note your progress. There is no leaderboard. Don't compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to yourself. It won't always be positive; sometimes life throws us crap that sours our mood, no matter what we do. But you should see a general positive trend. Congratulations - keep it up!


This game uses practices from these books:

And these websites: