Life is challenging for everyone, regardless of who you are or what you do.
As physicians, our lives are inherently demanding. We, without much thought, often sacrifice our physical and mental health in our pursuit of helping others. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. In our perpetually delayed gratification, thinking that “there’s always tomorrow,” we’ve traded too much sleep, missed too many family events, and lost too many loved ones.
In 2018, after being devastated by another unexpected loss, we realized that something needed to change – we needed to change. Life was too fragile, and we needed a way to take better care of ourselves. We came up with the idea of a little dose of happy as a major mindset shift: that achieving small wins (a little dose of happy) every day would improve our overall level of happiness over time.
We realized that we needed to change both our thoughts and actions. We embedded this idea into our acronym for a little dose of happy, aldohappy. The letters represent our nine elements of happiness (acts of kindness, laughter, devotion, optimism, health, appreciation, purpose, peace of mind, and yums) and provide a structured format for thinking about happiness. aldohappy (pronounced “all do happy”) also summarizes our idea that people achieve and maintain happiness by actively doing happy.
Over the next year, we developed a simple website that included news stories, educational articles, and recipes categorized by our elements of happiness. Then, as usual, we became distracted by our long work hours, limited free time, and more family tragedy. We were again living in a spiral of busyness, sadness, and burnout.
The start of the pandemic in 2020 was eye-opening for us. Physician burnout rates increased dramatically in tandem with COVID-19, exceeding the already record-setting rates pre-pandemic, and we were watching our colleagues struggle. Something had to give. And that was when we decided to do something about it.
We realized that while we had figured out what we needed to do to improve our own well-being, we had failed to hold ourselves accountable. If we were going to be successful in helping our fellow physicians and other busy people like us, we needed to create something simple, meaningful, memorable, and motivating – something that would help make happiness a habit.
We designed our Do Happy® App to be simple so that even the busiest people can achieve small daily wins. The core feature of the app is an easily accomplishable daily Do Happy task, which cycles through three pillars of happiness: self-care (taking care of yourself), relationship maintenance (keeping in touch with family and friends), and acts of kindness (helping your local community).
Other key features include an accountability calendar and gamification to motivate users to stay accountable for their happiness and a daily journal to reflect on our elements of happiness.
Our favorite app feature is the important people organizer. It enables users to keep track of all the important people in their lives and makes it easy to remember and reach out on important occasions. We made sure to include in the list of dates to remember the “death of a loved one.” While this may seem surprising for a happiness app, we have found it incredibly meaningful and thoughtful when our family and friends have reached out to us on those dates to show that they remember and care.
Moreover, we designed the app to be an aesthetically pleasing virtual memory book. Whenever users need an immediate pick-me-up, they can review the positive moments in their lives, including their daily task descriptions and reflections from their journal entries, look at pictures, and remember the phone calls and events they experienced with their loved ones.
As two physicians who have battled burnout, we know how important it is to find ways to deal with stress and prioritize mental health and well-being. Our app offers an all-in-one experience and encourages users to focus on living in the moment and staying connected.
Early users have been pleasantly surprised at how comprehensive yet simple the app is. They feel an immediate sigh of relief that it is easy to start and continue, realizing that they can stop putting off the things that will help their overall well-being and happiness until “later.”
The foundation of our app is kindness. We hope the app helps people choose to be kind and more compassionate to others, including themselves. Our goal is that the app always brings our users a little dose of happy.
Manda & Brett
Founders, a little dose of happy®