I founded Tracking Happiness in April 2017. Tracking Happiness reaches ~100,000 monthly visitors from all over the world. I try my best to continue to find and reach more people that are interested in Tracking Happiness every day.
Tracking Happiness has a small team, which means I wear a lot of hats at my job. At any given moment, I may be doing one of the following:
- Planning the editorial calendar of Tracking Happiness.
- Performing keyword research and Search Engine Optimization in order to increase our reach.
- Analyzing data for one of our future studies.
- Redesigning the website’s front-end.
- Growing our Instagram channel.
- Writing one of the articles on here (provided that I have something interesting to add!)
- Sending out an e-mail newsletter.
- Programming a new feature for the Tracking Happiness Diary.
- Replying to emails from our followers.
I am proud to have built Tracking Happiness to what it is today:
- A trusted source of mental health information to over a million visitors worldwide.
- Reached the news with some of our unique studies and releases.
- Allowed others to experience how powerful tracking your happiness can be via our own tools.
- A growing community of happiness trackers, that are sharing tips and stories that we can broadcast to the rest of the world.
The founding story of Tracking Happiness
If you think I’ve spent my entire life devoted to studying mental health and happiness, you’d be mistaken.
I actually hold a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and spent many years working at a big global contractor in marine engineering (think of offshore wind farms, and you’ll have an idea!)
What actually got me started on the journey that eventually led to founding Tracking Happiness was a bit of curiosity. When I just turned 20, I started a journal in which I not only wrote about whatever was on my mind but also tracked my happiness. At the end of each day, I would whip out my journal and think:
How happy was I today on a scale from 1 to 100?
I thought I’d learn a thing or two about myself by simply trying to be more introspective about my happiness.
A year passed by and I suddenly found that I had a boatload of data about myself. Being an engineer (and the biggest Excel nerd you’ve ever seen), I obviously tried to analyze and visualize this data.
- Can I correlate my sleeping habits to my happiness?
- Am I happier on Fridays?
- Does money make me happier?
- How much happier does running marathons make me?
These questions were all I could think of for a while. They pretty much consumed me.
But when I tried to find similar-minded people online, the results were a bit underwhelming. Had no one created a site about tracking your happiness? Was there really no one who had compared their Garmin running logs to their happiness ratings?
The answer was no, so I eventually convinced myself that I could actually fill this void here, not knowing how big that void really was.
Tracking Happiness started as a very simple blog. The first post was published in April 2017. At the time, I had a simple goal:
I wanted to share with others how powerful tracking my happiness was, and how it has positively influenced my mental health, self-awareness, and my life in general. Over time, this website transformed into something bigger. I published a number of big data-driven posts, like the effect of sleep on my happiness, engineering a happiness prediction model, and how running makes my life better.
This attracted people who were also passionate about tracking happiness, journaling, and learning to understand what influences our mood. Over the years, Tracking Happiness has become more than a simple blog.
- We’ve made headlines with our own studies (like this one, or this one, or this one).
- I’ve had the fortune to hire some amazing writers/contributors, who’ve helped me build this site into a growing encyclopedia of mental health topics.
- We’ve gone viral on Reddit, HackerNews and social media with our geeky data analyses (like this one, or this one).
- Thousands of people have signed up for our free templates and e-mail newsletter.
- In March 2021, we launched the Tracking Happiness Diary, offering the easiest way to get started with tracking happiness yourself!
A peculiar turn of events
In 2020, something happened that indirectly changed the course of Tracking Happiness. Until then, I had worked on Tracking Happiness as a hobby, in addition to my full-time job. While my job as an engineer was mostly OK, it slowly but consistently became more stressful and chaotic. In the meantime, my girlfriend and I had always dreamed of quitting our jobs to go travel the world for a year.
In 2020, we made the decision and we both handed in our notices. Needles to say, we could not have timed it any worse. A couple of weeks later, the corona pandemic would swarm over the world, and suddenly our cute little plan was wiped out.
Luckily, we had saved up enough money to not panic right away. This brings me back to Tracking Happiness.
At the time, it had made a grand total of $0.00 in its lifetime. 🤓
Even though I didn’t start this venture with the idea of it becoming my full-time job, I always thought I could grow it into something bigger and figure it out by then. So that’s what I’m doing right now.
Since then, I’ve been working hard to grow this community into something bigger.
This brings us to the here and the now.
Some facts that nobody knows about me
Okay, okay, most people that I’m close with actually already know these things:
- I ran 5 marathons, each time thinking that I’d easily be finishing well within 4 hours. I turned out to be a naive dumbass every damn time. I only managed once, sneaking in just in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 58 seconds.
- I don’t have a policy against eating leftover dinner in the morning (I really don’t understand what’s not to like about pasta in the morning).
- I learned to play guitar when I was 16, and yes, the first song I learned was Wonderwall by Oasis.
- While my voice is super flat, dull and robot-like, I’ve heard from a lot of people that I laugh like a little girl.
- I recorded and published an album of my own music on Spotify. If you like soft and dreamy rock and aren’t overly critical, you can listen to it here. And before you ask: no, I was not aware that I misspelled my album title before I submitted it to Spotify. 😭)
- I reconecteded with my biggest childhood hobby when I was 27 years old: skateboarding! 12-year-old me would be super proud if he knew I’d be landing 360-flips in the future.
- If I had to go back in time to change my career, I’d probably choose Astrology or Physics. I love contemplating our tiny piece of existence within the universe while looking at the stars.
- I can quote tons of movies from my childhood – word for word – like the Aristocats, 101 Dalmations and Home Alone.
- I’m the guy that’s always 5 minutes late. Actually, I consider 5 minutes late to be “right on time”. This trait runs deep in my family, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend. 😉
I’d love to connect with you. Connect with me on LinkedIn or reach me at hugo (at) trackinghappiness (dot) com.
Alternatively, you can sign up to the Tracking Happiness email list, where I try to periodically share anything noteworthy.
Want to say hi, call me a naive dumbass or just chat about the weather, I’d love to meet you in the comments below!