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Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

Posted: January 30, 2008 06:00 PM

Eleven internet tools to boost your happiness.


The internet is a treasure trove. I'm constantly amazed by the astounding information and tools that are out there.

I've found several sites that provide great services that help boost happiness, in one way or another. I've used all of these myself and have found them extremely useful.

1. Happybirthday.com - one of the keys to happiness is keeping close relationships with other people. I plugged in dozens of birthdays to get reminders, and now I never forget a birthday. A friend of mine also uses Happybirthday.com to remind himself of happy anniversaries, like the day his daughter said her first word.

2. An RSS reader -- looking for ways to use your time more efficiently? If you find yourself visiting a lot of different sites, use an RSS reader instead of your "favorites" list or typing in the URL. I use FeedDemon, but there are many readers from which to choose. It's a far more efficient way to cruise through the internet.

For example, consider subscribing to my RSS feed! Subscribe to this blog's feed.

3. Hack sites -- oh, there are so many excellent sites crammed with life hacks. I can't even begin to list them. It's always fun to visit, cruise around, and look for something helpful. Some great ones include Lifehacker, Lifehack, Parent Hacks, LifeRemix, Zen Habits, Unclutterer, Pick the Brain, and Dumb Little Man.

4. Google Alerts - an atmosphere of growth is a key to happiness, and one way to create that atmosphere is to keep learning about subjects that interest you. A crucial tool is Google Alerts. It's very easy. You pick a topic that interests you - say, "Saint Therese of Lisieux" or your own name - and create an alert. Then Google sends you a daily email alerting you to all the appearances of your subject. Fabulous!

5. Listography - Just the other day, I wrote about why I think keeping lists can be a useful tool for building happiness. Listography makes it easy to keep all sorts of lists as a way to organize thoughts, set goals, and keep accountability.

6. 43 Things -- a site about goal-setting that's great inspiration. It's fascinating to read other people's goals - and it also reminds me of how fortunate I am. For instance, one commenter wrote, "If I could find that one special person my life would be complete!!!!" Ah, that made me feel grateful for the Big Man.

7. Day Zero: Home of the 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days Project - along the same lines, this site leads you through the process of tackling 101 goals in 1001 days (the site even has a calendar calculator, so you can figure out the date). It also has some terrific tips for successful goal-setting.

8. HassleMe -- sticking to resolutions is tough, and my "HassleMe" reminder nudges me each day to "Eat healthfully. Write in your one-sentence journal. Lighten up!" The trick is not to get used to seeing the reminder arrive in my email each day, but to read it mindfully and follow it every day.

9. Joe's Goals -- making and keeping resolutions is a key to becoming happier. This excellent site makes it easy to keep track.

10. Start your own blog. Many readers have emailed me to say that they've started their own version of a happiness-project blog - to lose weight, stop drinking, clear closets, cope with a messy divorce, read more, etc. Recording progress in a blog makes a lot of sense. First, you articulate your goals. Second, you commit to those goals in public (even if you're the only one reading your blog, it's public, and that increases your sense of accountability). Third, seeing your list of entries grow gives you a great feeling of accomplishment - that "atmosphere of growth" that's so encouraging.

11. Puzzlemaker - making homemade presents is a great source of happiness, but it's tough to pull off. Last night, the Big Girl told me about Puzzlemaker, which allows you to make your own personalized word jumbles, word searches, etc. My mind is REELING with the possibilities - invitations, Mother's Day and Father's Day presents, etc. I'm sure my beloved laminator will also come in handy.

Different strategies work well for different people. Experiment. If one site strikes you as unappealing, visit another site until you find an approach that rings true.

I'm sure there are many other great sites, as well. I'd love to read other people's suggestions.

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If you'd like to read more about happiness, check out Gretchen's daily blog, The Happiness Project, and join the Happiness Project group on Facebook to swap ideas.