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The How We Feel App: Helping Emotions Work for Us, Not Against Us

December 01, 2022
by Megan Happ, Erin Brough, Nicole Elbertson and Marc A. Brackett

Life is an emotional rollercoaster. We experience a full range of emotions each moment of every day. Navigating these emotions in a way that leads to overall well-being takes practice. The great news is there’s a new app for that. How We Feel was designed to help users identify and track their emotions, learn what causes them, discover helpful regulation strategies, and identify patterns. Built by scientists, designers, engineers, and therapists, the How We Feel app helps users recognize, understand, and regulate emotions at the touch of a finger.

The app was founded as a science-based nonprofit, the How We Feel Project, Inc. The product team, led by Ben Silbermann (a graduate of Yale and co-founder of Pinterest) includes current and former Pinterest employees who are passionate about creating a more emotionally healthy world. The app’s content and scientific team is led by Professor Marc Brackett from the Yale Child Study Center and his colleagues from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

How We Feel users start by checking in with how they are feeling in the moment and then tagging or journaling about factors they believe are contributing to their current emotional state. Since emotions are neither good nor bad, users are then given the opportunity to explore strategies to feel the way they want to feel through helpful videos and activities.

The visually stunning application design is inspired by the Mood Meter, a tool used to support the development of a nuanced emotion vocabulary. Widely recognizable in over 4,000 pre-K to 12 school communities across 27 countries, the Mood Meter is one of four tools used within RULER, the evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Among over 1 million new apps uploaded to the app store each year, How We Feel was chosen as one of the top 15 apps of 2022 and was selected for the App Store’s “Cultural Impact” Award for both its design and ability to help people build emotion skills and cultivate greater well-being. Boasting a 4.9 out of 5-star rating, users report that How We Feel has helped them to navigate their feelings and gain agency over their emotional states. Some reviewers have noted that they have created a network with friends via the app to check in with one another and stay connected on how they are feeling.

“Being part of a creative team of psychologists and software designers to build an app that has the potential to improve millions of people’s lives is incredibly humbling and rewarding,” said Brackett.

Emotions matter when it comes to creating a healthier and more equitable, innovative, and compassionate society. Our ability to use our emotions wisely impacts everything – creating and maintaining relationships, performing well at school and work, tapping into creativity, making good decisions, and cultivating mental and physical well-being. The How We Feel app shows us how to make emotions work for us, not against us, in service of making the world a better place.

Submitted by Erin Brough on December 02, 2022