Will Jelbert is an author who has written several books helping people find their personal happiness. We’ve featured him before in the Inside BlackBerry blog. In this sequel, Jelbert shares how our secure Android device PRIV is a tool that helps him “exercise” his “happiness muscles.”
What is happiness? In my bestselling book The Happiness Animal and its just-released sequel 25 Days, I explain how happiness is connecting well with existence, and the way to achieve it is by regularly exercising your five happiness muscles: tolerance, kindness, honesty, awareness and courage.
With the advent of the wellness revolution, happiness research has taken off – I’ve been studying the field for more than five years now. The U.N.-commissioned World Happiness Report 2016 is fresh off the press, and once again Denmark came in as the world’s happiest country. As the people of Denmark show us, material possessions aren’t the key to happiness. Still, just like with any other exercise program, having the right tools when you exercise makes your happiness muscles stronger.
I’ve found my PRIV by BlackBerry to be one of those tools. In the spirit of the Happiness Animal, I share these five ways PRIV helps me exercise my happiness muscles to connect well with the world every day.
1. PRIV Honesty
Without honesty, happiness (and trust) cannot exist. And I need to be honest here. In The Happiness Animal, I said materialism will not make you happy, and it can even be toxic to happiness. You will rarely see luxury cars or houses or people trying to stand out or compete materially in Denmark.
But with materialism (as it is with ego), a material possession used as a creative tool – rather than it using me as its tool – can be an aid to happiness. We are living in a material world and a material person needs a material somewhere to live, in my case by the end of the month.
So I loaded the “Australians in New York” Facebook page on my PRIV, found an apartment in Chelsea, clicked on the number on my screen and called the owner, Gari, to arrange a viewing. Without a photocopier at hand, I used the PRIV to scan the lease agreement and my passport, then transferred the deposit. I like to think I have a good radar for honesty, but when I exercised trust and confidence that Gari was honest, it felt really good. No surprise though: trust and confidence were voted the top definitions of happiness by those I polled globally in a happiness survey.
2. PRIV Kindness (or, My OK Google Moment)
The second muscle that helps us connect well with existence is kindness. We Brits aren’t too familiar with the grid system of navigation in cities. So when two of my countrywomen got off the train at the West 66th Street station scratching their heads, with suitcases in tow, I asked them where they were headed.
“And what avenue?” I asked. “You know 125th Street runs all across Manhattan.” Then I “OK Googled” the address of their Airbnb, and they took a photograph of the map on my PRIV. The three of us were smiling. They expressed their gratitude and I felt useful.
Appreciation feels good. Kindness feels even better, and the Danes have it mastered with things like helping each other move house or do home renovation projects. But when I’m alone with no one around to be kind to, I turn to the mood-lifting capacity of music. I’m grateful for the PRIV front speaker’s depth of sound. It did justice to my Bob Dylan collection and – when I opened Google Music – to some Kendrick Lamar radio, which livened me up. Gratitude, appreciation, kindness and the empathetic resonance of music – I’m feeling good right about now.
3. PRIV Curiosity
Exercising curiosity in place of judgment is what I call tolerance in The Happiness Animal, and tolerance (or curiosity) is the third happiness muscle. University of California, Berkeley student Sarita Serup, who lived in Denmark for seven years, says of the Danes, “they are less judgmental and more curious than American families.” The PRIV is a curious person’s best friend. It does unfailingly well at recognizing the exact words of my questions, even with my English/Australian accent.
I have been living in New York for several months without sating myself on the art riches the city has to offer. So I asked Google for the location of the Museum of Modern Art, only to discover it was eight blocks from my office and entry is free on Friday nights. I explored the gallery and its courtyard, stopping wherever my curiosity happened to catch, snapping inspiration with my PRIV’s camera, whose size belies the sophistication of its precision optics and focus capabilities. On an after-dinner walk across the Brooklyn bridge, the 18-megapixel Schenieder-Kreuznach lens was the envy of my iPhone 6-toting friend, as we both snapped pictures of the clouds illuminated by the New York lights.
Another example of curiosity satisfied with PRIV: As a diehard BlackBerry user for over 10 years, I’d never used one of the main apps my Gen-Y friends rave about: Uber. Until now that is. I was curious to try it on the PRIV when I found myself stranded in New Jersey after missing the last ferry home last week. Unfortunately, not only was it my first Uber ride, it was also the Uber driver, Maria’s, first Uber drive. And she got lost. We ended up going around the block and into a dead end. Twice, only to end up right back where she had picked me up at my friend’s apartment. OK Google, get me out of this one PLEASE. I’m no Aladdin, but my wish was literally the PRIV’s command, and out came clear voice navigation to get Maria back on track to West 66th Street.
4. PRIV Awareness
The fourth happiness muscle is awareness. “Hygge” is a frequently used Danish word that, roughly translated, means living in the moment. It’s peace of mind with no agenda. Awareness, for me, is simply noticing the difference between thoughts and sensations that come from my imagination, versus those that are of sensory origin. But if I ever get stuck trying to exercise this muscle, there are plenty of mindfulness apps, like Headspace, available on the PRIV. Luckily I don’t need to worry if I want to use Headspace after enjoying New York’s famous food, like cafe pastries and fried egg brioches. I love that I can scroll with the keyboard rather than smearing my greasy fingers all over my screen.
There’s another keyboard feature I love that helps with my self-awareness: predictive text. On PRIV you can flick upwards on the keyboard below the predictive word to add it to a message. These aren’t just any predictions: PRIV learns the words I use most frequently and how I associate them with one another. It gets to know me. It may be an oxymoron, but my language is predictably authentic. For anyone with an identity crisis or living the script of “Memento,” this feature literally reminds you of who you are. More than just a creative tool and coach, it’s an evolving lexicon of who I am.
5. PRIV Courage
The courage to lead an authentic life purpose is the fifth and final happiness muscle. It takes courage for the Danes to be so honest and sincere (sidebar: the origin of sincere means “without wax”) and authentic.
Danish movies do not have happy endings. Danish art is more about honest expression of complex feelings. I’ve been using PRIV to bolster my own courage and overcome my fears of public speaking. Recently I did my first broadcast on Periscope (search for “The Happiness Animal” on Periscope). I feel more confident broadcasting with a device I am not worried is going to break.
If I’m honest, before I got the PRIV I was worried that the sliding screen/keyboard would make the device flimsy, but it feels solid and is visibly reinforced. The exposed underside of the screen looks like it could be NASA equipment on a Mars rover. Robust, solid, cutting edge, but dependable. I trust it.
You can learn how to exercise all five of the above muscles in Will’s book, The Happiness Animal. Join Will for his PRIV dance on Periscope around New York City every week. His new book, 25 Days is available on Amazon. Follow Will on Facebook, Twitter @Will_I_AM_J and Periscope.
If you want to know more about PRIV, check out what our fans are saying, look at the official PRIV product page and watch our how-to demos. If you are wondering where you can get your hands on a PRIV, check out our availability blog. Many carriers such as AT&T in the U.S. and Rogers and Bell in Canada are also offering PRIV at new, lower prices (as low as $299.99 on two-year contract in Canada or $21.34/month with zero down at AT&T).