After a Bitter Election Season, Apps to Spread Good Cheer

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THERE are times when the world seems a cold and unfriendly place. For some people, now is one of those moments. But there are many apps out there to help improve your mood or spread some joy around.

The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has an app called You-app that has nothing to do with his cooking. Instead, it’s a motivational app that encourages you to accomplish a particular task, or “micro-action,” each day.

When you set up the app, it asks what your goals are. You can select up to five themes from a list that includes “personal growth” and “positivity,” and then the app will choose daily micro-actions that match your intentions.

With the action “find micro-happiness,” for example, you’re asked to “capture a small moment of happiness” — perhaps cooking or eating a great meal, or messaging an old friend. You snap a photo, write down some thoughts, and then upload your completed post to the app’s community.

Here it will join other posts and gather likes from people who appreciate your effort. With each challenge are a brief explanation of why it is a great idea and a stream of Instagram-like posts from other users, with images and encouraging words to help you meet your goals.

You can also browse You-app to see the micro-actions that other users have achieved. You can befriend users to follow their progress more closely, or mark particular posts as favorites to revisit them later for extra inspiration.

The idea may sound simple, but the joy of You-app is that the community of users is active and the upbeat vibe can improve your mood. It’s also free for both iOS and Android.

Many of us have grown accustomed to using chat apps, but sometimes chat environments can seem too big and impersonal to share messages with loved ones. That’s where an app like Between can be useful.

Between is a private chat app, where only you and a partner can see each other’s messages — you can even lock the app for extra privacy. In addition to standard text message-style chats, you can share stickers, videos, photos and even calendar entries. And if you’re separated geographically from your loved one, the app includes a weather section so each of you can get a feel for the environment where the other is.

This chat app has a pleasant, minimalist interface, so there are few distractions to take your attention away from what your partner is saying. Between is cute, fun and could lend a special air to digital chats that you might never get when using a more public-facing app like WhatsApp. Between is free for iOS and Android.

Nobly, another app, encourages you to perform random acts of kindness. Similar to You-app, Nobly tries to motivate you to “pay it forward” by performing a kind act and then snapping a photo and sharing what you did on the app.

You can befriend other Nobly users, and the “deed feed” at the heart of the app looks and feels like a charity-minded version of Instagram. It has a list of photos shared by people who have done things like paying for someone’s cab ride or volunteering at a shelter.

The idea is: You share your own good deed, and then tag up to three friends in the app to challenge them to do a good deed as well.

Though the idea of bragging about a random act of kindness may make the whole process a little less altruistic, community encouragement can be a big motivator. Nobly is free for iOS and Android.

Finally, check out a new app called Flinch that is certain to make you laugh. This app brings the classic staring game right up to the 21st century. You stare into someone’s eyes until one or both of you cracks. The first to laugh loses.

The app uses your device’s camera to detect whether you’re laughing, and then awards points to the contest winner. You can play against friends or against strangers around the world.

The game is silly, and the random aspect of it somehow adds to the potential for fun. It can be strange to stare into the eyes of someone you don’t know. But the app reminds us that whoever we are, wherever we live, we’re all the same. Flinch is free for iOS and Android.

Quick Call

Anchor is a new app with an unusual concept: Think of it as snippets of radio that are crowdsourced, or perhaps an audio-only version of Vine or Periscope. You can record two minutes of audio, then broadcast it to the world through the app. Or surf the app for other users’ posts, and post a reaction to create a conversation. Anchor is free for iOS and Android.