In ancient Greece, philosophers believed so strongly that self-knowledge was the key to human potential that they inscribed the phrase “Know Thyself” onto the sacred Temple of Apollo. Since that time, philosophers, religious leaders and authors alike have mused about the nature of humanity and our sense of self. What are humans made of? How do we experience pain? What are emotions and why do we have them? Until recently, most of the conclusions that were drawn came from external observation or speculation. However, thanks to evolving technology, we now have the ability to connect our external and internal worlds in ways that Socrates or Plato couldn’t have imagined.
Taking your emotional temperature
While many wearable technology products focus on tracking physical health, a number of wearables are now emerging specifically to assess emotional health. One of my favorite wearables, called the Spire Stone
, is a small lava-shaped rock with a clip that attaches to your waistband or bra strap. It uses your breathing patterns to determine if you are feeling calm, focused or tense. As a naturally anxious person, I found this feedback loop useful. However, about five days into my trial period with Spire, this device went from fascinating to fundamentally transformative.
In-Spired reality check
Through a terrible series of circumstances, my 8-year-old daughter Ana broke her neck last summer in our backyard pool. Fortunately, she is now doing fine and launching back-handsprings all over the house. But at the time, I remember driving Ana to the hospital to get X-rays while wearing my Spire stone, and surprisingly, it said that I was feeling quite calm. It wasn’t until we were walking out of the hospital, with Ana in a giant neck brace, that the Spire stone began to vibrate, indicating that I was feeling tense. And I thought, “Yeah I know!! My daughter just broke her neck.” But the vibration caused me to pause and think about why I was feeling tense.
I realized that I was worried about what other people would think about me as the mom of a child with a broken neck, rather than being present with Ana and supporting her as she wrestled with her new reality—a summer of no gymnastics, no lacrosse, no swimming. This 30-second feedback loop from the Spire Stone was just enough to help me reframe my thoughts and mindfully pivot to be more like the mother I wanted to be.
The next generation
This is technology at its finest — helping to raise our consciousness and fuel well-being through science-based solutions. And right now, so many emerging technologies coming onto the market will help us to gain insight into living happier, healthier lives. Here are a few wearables that I find particularly fascinating:
- Muse—a brain-sensing headband that provides real-time insight into your state of mind and teaches you how to overcome distraction
- Feel—a gender-neutral bracelet that uses skin conductance, body temperature and heart rate to track emotion and coach you toward greater well-being
- Bellabeat Leaf Urban—a bracelet, necklace or clip that measures stress, breathing patterns, sleep quality and even tracks menstrual and ovulation cycles
- Pip—a small handheld device that monitors changes in skin pores to track stress levels and then recommends strategies to reduce stress through activities in its companion app.
If you are interested in learning about other wearables for tracking physical and emotional health, check out my book The Future of Happiness or visit happiness.tech for direct links to over 100 apps, gadgets and wearables dedicated to increasing well-being.