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.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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