Cheating Our Brains into Happiness
Jane McGonigal is a prominent game developer who has dedicated her recent years to developing games that try to help the world out instead of just entertaining a few. In the tenth chapter of her book Reality is Broken, she argues that happiness levels in the United States and around the world are alarmingly low, and people are very depressed. She then introduces a term called “Happiness Hacking”. McGonigal herself defines it as “…the experimental design practice of translating positive-psychology research findings into game mechanics. It’s a way to make happiness activities feel less hokey, and to put them in a bigger social context”. (McGonigal. Reality is Broken, pg. 188). In other words, McGonigal believes by turning ‘weird’ happiness activities into games, more people will start to perform them since the new generations have their minds set into games, so anything game-like they will enjoy. She cites many researches in which subjects thought happiness activities were awkward to perform, corny, and believed self-help didn’t work. I agree, because after reading I came to my own conclusion (and thinking back into my life as well) that indeed, when you are sad and some one tells you to smile, all you think is ‘please shut up’. So what can makes us be happier? In her book, McGonigal maintains that “The two most frequently recommended happiness activities across the scientific literature are to express gratitude and practice acts of kindness.” (pg. 189) Her point is that to make our selves happy, the best way is to make someone else happy, because this is rewarding to our brain. She came up with some games that will remove awkwardness and shyness from these activities, like killing someone with compliments and stabbing them with a smile, or uploading a video of yourself dancing with a mask to make you feel better with the positive feedback people give you without revealing your identity.
What I think is interesting is that...
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