5 Ways to Well-being (imagined in an iPhone app)

[I’ve cross posted this to the Made by Many blog where there should be some more conversation, so you might want to head to www.j.mp/happyappy.]

I recently watched the utterly fantastic TED talk ‘The Happy Planet Index’ by Nic Marks. The talk covers a lot of sensible ground including why the environmental movement needs to shift their tactics and also the quite stunning results from his research on measuring countries’ happiness in relation to life expectancy, contentment and ecological efficiency (hint: the results will surprise you).

It’s well worth 17 minutes of your time (embedded below).

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

However it was his concluding comments about the key ingredients driving people’s happiness that really caught my attention. Marks only had time to race through the 5 principles that came out of some research by the New Economics Foundation (nef) in 2008. The principles were:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

Not many surprising ones there (although “take notice” is a lovely addition), and after I had finished watching the talk, I was chatting to my Made by Many colleague Paul Sims about how simple and yet fantastic these principles were. I think it was Paul who first suggested that putting these principles into practice and recording them with a mobile application could be an amazingly powerful tool. (NB: The two of us have been playing around with the brilliant iPhone app mappiness of late so it’s no surprise our heads were in this space).

As a result I spent the weekend digging around and finding out a little more about the research. I quickly came across a terrific summary of the nef research which had been “commissioned by the UK Government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Well-being to review the inter-disciplinary work of over 400 scientists from across the world”.

Here are the summary results:

Anyway, I decided to spend the weekend mocking up a bunch of pages to see how these principles could work within an iPhone app.

My design skills are pretty much confined to Keynote shape manipulation, so luckily I had the wonderful Anel Palafox (@thinkdsignchnge) on hand to polish things up to make it all presentable (not to mention that she’s a great social designer used to applying creative thinking to social challenges!)

Mock-ups embedded below but would recommend you check them out full-screen.

So I guess next steps is to get someone (nef?) to get some money together to build the app (I’d humbly recommend Made by Many!). Would love some feedback and any comments. Obviously there’s loads missing in these screens. For example, I imagine that you could set daily push notifications to remind you to share ‘well-being moments’, as well as deciding whether you want your posts to be private or public etc. Or perhaps it should be integrated into Twitter?

All in all, I reckon this could be an awesome, helpful and fascinating app.

What do you think? Would you use it?

(Comments below or alternatively get in touch via Twitter @juzmcmuz. You’ll also note that I borrowed some screens and elements from such great iPhone apps as Facebook, Echofon & Evernote; sure they won’t mind!)

More to explore

I suspect Steve Jobs, and his excellent talk about connecting dots, was inspired by this quote from Pirsig’s timeless book.

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