What's important to you? According to the Global Well-Being Index, people say their most important concerns in life are community, finances, physical health, sense of purpose and a happening social life. While the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country can play a big role on the "happiness index" of its residents, that's clearly not the only thing that matters. For example, Costa Rica is regularly ranked as one of the "happiest" countries in the world, yet it's far from the richest (at least in terms of financial wealth).
Focusing on each of these five important issues can help individuals be happier, healthier and safer. The right solution ties in perfectly to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a well-known pyramid which ranks human needs and desires in order of necessity: From the physiological (the basics like water and oxygen), up to safety, love and belonging, esteem, and finally, self-actualization.
There is a wide range of technological advancement addressing the major issues that contribute to a sense of well-being. Some overlap onto different levels of Maslow's pyramid. Some might saturate more than one of the areas of "important issues" defined by the respondents of the Global Well-Being Index. However, all of them can help improve your life.
1. Health: Apple iOS8
Without health, what do you have? With all the buzz surrounding iOS8, it's Apple's health app that's getting quite a few conversations going. Its goal is to make health a priority for you, just as important as work or family. It may make managing your health easier by aggregating all of your health-related data in one place. Apple says that with a glance, you can get a better picture of your health.
The app guides you to living a healthier lifestyle, whether it's by upping how many steps you take per day or keeping you on track with doctors' appointments. There's also the option to customize an emergency card so everyone knows who to contact (and how) should disaster strike. You can let your healthcare providers access your HealthKit data, but you control what's shared, whether it's your blood pressure with your main doctor or your food diary with your nutritionist.
2. Finances: Mint.com
Mint has long been a go-to resource for managing your finances. It's a good way to get a handle on your entire financial health. You can personalize it and enjoy quick organization and categorization of your spending. Set financial goals, and it'll help hold you accountable. There's even a way to keep a constant eye on your credit score for no extra fee.
You might be a bit annoyed at the advertisements and promotions that populate your user experience on Mint. For example, if the app notices you have too many ATM fees, it will ask if you are interested in a different bank account that doesn't charge as much for those. These are fine at the end of the day, and in fact are helpful in a lot of cases. A company has to make money somehow, as they say.
3. Security for You and Your Family: Estate Assist
Estate Assist is a life planning and identity theft product that includes the secure storage of important personal, financial and digital assets. You can accessed and update the platform at any time, as well as share with family members or designated trustees. Estate Assist provides bank-level security and a $1 million protection guarantee, which means this platform can potentially provide peace of mind for you and your family.
From copies of wills, insurance policies, and birth certificates, to online account information and social media login credentials, Estate Assist makes this information accessible anytime. You control who has access and how much you share. This act of securing and protecting your assets and important life documents in one place can help you to live your life to the fullest without worrying about what would happen to your loved ones, if something were to happen to you.
4. Purpose: Coursera, Duolingo
Having a purpose is a crucial part of feeling successful and like you're leaving a legacy. Learning new things, even as an adult, plays a huge part in that. That's what companies like Coursera and Duolingo are trying to provide. The idea is that learning will help you like what you do every day, which motivates you to keep striving towards success. From Arabic to chemistry, entrepreneurship to choreography, free online courses like these should help to keep your brain in shape just like you do your body.
5. Community: Instead and Kiva
"Instead" of wishing you could do more, take the first step with Instead or Kiva. Giving back is one of the best ways to not just make a positive difference in the world, but also to make you feel good, and therefore improve your well-being. Even the smallest sacrifice can make a huge difference. Micro donations add up to change the world, resulting in macro impacts. The companies also let you know how your donations help the people involved. Whether you "only" have two dollars to spare or hundreds, every little bit really does add up on these services.
Are you trying to increase your own happiness? This is an opportunity that many people in the world don't have because they must still worry about the basics like water and shelter. If you live in a first world country, you more than likely have a chance to take advantage of these various high-tech services. Not only can they make you more healthy and secure, but they may even bring you greater happiness overall.