Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have concluded, with the help of their MindHabits Trainer game, that happy games helps cut stress and boost confidence. In this particular game, one exercise shows a grid of faces, with 15 of them frowning and one smiling – the player must find the smiling face as quickly as possible. The idea is that through repetitive playing, the mind is trained to focus on the positive aspects of life. MindHabits offers several different activities, including a "lab" section that explains the science behind the exercises.
In a field test, a sample group of telemarketers was asked to play the game every day for a week just before their shift. A control group spent five to 10 minutes playing another game, without smiling faces, before their shift started. At the end of the week, the group that played the "find the smile" exercise reported feeling less stressed, had higher self esteem, made more sales, and were rated as being more confident in their phone calls. Most remarkably, said McGill psychology professor Mark Baldwin, who led the team, they had 17% lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.