I founded Tracking Happiness in April 2017. Tracking Happiness reaches 1,5 million yearly 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.
- Conducting interviews to learn more about how other people learn to live with struggles of mental health.
- Analyzing data for one of our future studies.
- Redesigning the website's front end.
- Writing one of our articles (provided that I have something interesting to add!)
- Sending out an e-mail newsletter to our subscribers.
- Replying to emails from our followers.
I am proud to have built Tracking Happiness into what it is today:
- A trusted source of mental health information to millions of visitors worldwide.
- Interviewed over 100 people from all over the world about mental health struggles.
- Reached the news with some of our unique studies and releases.
- Allowing others to experience how powerful tracking your happiness can be through 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.
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 "side-project", 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.
Needless 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 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. 🤓
After I quit my job, I went all-in on Tracking Happiness.
But what does "going all-in" mean?
- Trying to build the most reputable online source of mental health-related content.
- Building a consistent income stream that can cover our expenses. As of right now, our interviews and articles are freely accessible because we serve ads on them. They keep our lights on!
- Growing a team of passionate mental health creators, in order to meet the rising demand for new content!
Furthermore, in 2023, I started interviewing folks about their mental health struggles. In less than 10 months, I have interviewed 100 people from all backgrounds.
And now my mission is to allow as many people as possible to learn from these inspiring stories.
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 dumb*ss every damn time. I only managed once, sneaking in just in 3 hours, 59 minutes, and 58 seconds.
- I learned to play guitar when I was 16, and yes, the first song I learned was Wonderwall by Oasis.
- 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 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).
- 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 reconnected 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.
- Despite the corona pandemic, my girlfriend and I did manage to travel the world for a year. We traveled all the way from Argentina to Canada, where we bought an old Chevy campervan from 1991. It was the experience of a lifetime!
- Now, we are settled in a small city in the Netherlands, where we're living happily with our little pup Tira.
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 for the Tracking Happiness email list, where I try to periodically share anything noteworthy.
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Be Happier and More Productive
Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 unique tips for your mental health.
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!