How Do You Design for Happiness?

The ticket to happiness isn't a million-dollar check-it's something a little less predictable.

A first step in tackling this question is to understand what happiness means. But herein lies the problem. Our understanding of what happiness is (and how to get it) is often misaligned with what really drives it. Indeed, research by Dan Gilbert and his colleagues show that we tend to go looking for happiness in a lot of the wrong places. If you disagree, you can check out the lead story on Entertainment Tonight on any given day.

Indeed, being a multimillionaire with all the picket fences, fur sinks, and electric dog polishers that money can buy will not bring us the contentment we seek. What will? Meaning. Research shows we’ll feel more fulfilled if we donate a couple of hours each week to a cause we care about than if we donate a large chunk of our wages to a charity we know little about. Further, donating time instead of money is associated with greater feelings of connection to the organization you’re helping. This, in turn, boosts otherwise elusive feelings of balance and purpose that so many of us seek.

Consider the simple question: Where are you spending your time? Answering this question might lead to more clarity about what is personally meaningful, and with that insight, you may be better able to design for happiness.

These insights are playing out in organizations (Zappos), websites and blogs (We Feel Fine), and how marketing campaigns are designed (Coke). In The Dragonfly Effect, we discuss which companies have done a particularly good job of harnessing principles of happiness and applying them to their businesses. We observe how people use social technology to make changes in the world—but what we’re really talking about is something more fundamental and human. The Dragonfly Effect is about creating a single focused goal, based on meaning and happiness, and designing a campaign that allows the goal to spread. And with the social web, it’s often not about donating those dollars: It can also be about donating yourself—your time, your connections, your commitment, and your talent—to spread passion and awareness and affect the outcomes of the things you believe in. Just as so many seemingly pointless YouTube videos go viral, so too can a campaign for change.

To get a better idea of how that can work, here is a excerpt from The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, Powerful Ways to use Social Media to Drive Social Change:

Focus on the person you are trying to help. Don’t rush in with a solution to a problem, test alternatives and be prepared to return to square one several times. Also, focus on the person you need help from. What are their goals and dreams? How can you help them achieve them? Who are you to them? Where are your leverage points in terms of causing them to act? Match your appeal to the medium (e.g. short bursts for Twitter, logical discourse for blogs, emotional envelopment on YouTube).


Interested in more insight on how to design organizations, websites, and even movements based on principles of happiness and emotional contagion, peruse, the research stream associated with The Dragonfly Effect, or the research on time, money, and happiness by Sanford DeVoe, Jeff Pfeffer, Cassie Mogilner, and Wendy Liu.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading