Tracking happiness is very simple and takes less than 5 minutes per day.
The entire method is based on three simple ideas:
- Rate your happiness.
- Determine what factors had a significant influence on your happiness.
- Keep it up, reflect and learn!
Step 1: Determine your daily happiness rating
The first simple fundamental idea is that each day should get what is called a ‘Happiness rating’. What this means is that you rate every day based on your happiness, on a scale from 1 to 10.
You can see it as a happiness scale. If you were to grade your own happiness, how high would you rate it?
If you experience a bad day, then you give it a low rating. If you experience a very happy day, then you give it a similarly high rating.
Surely, this is not rocket science!
However, it’s important to remain consistent in your rating process.
We are not robots. We should all be glad that we get to feel emotions. This introduces a couple of problems, though.
We are prone to an endless list of biases, which can interfere with our rational decision making. It’s impossible to assign a happiness rating to your day without being even slightly biased. It’s not how we work as humans.
Emotions get in the way.
But it’s important to at least be self-aware of those biases. And more importantly, that these biases can change our decision making.
For example, the same day could get rated with a 7 on a Monday and a 7,5 on a Friday. It’s extremely important to be aware of our biases. Consistency is key here.
Your happiness tracking data becomes more valuable over time, especially when you remain consistent in your judgments.
Step 2: Determine the happiness factors
The second step of tracking happiness is to determine which factors have had an influence on your happiness rating.
If you had a lovely date with your partner, then why not determine your relationship as a positive factor on your happiness? If you felt miserable because you had a fever, make sure you determine that fever as a negative factor! The list of factors is virtually endless and obviously varies per person, but be sure to be as honest as possible here.
It’s important to not get lost in the details as well.
We are only interested in the significant happiness factors here. If we included every single factor – no matter how small – it would be pretty hard to learn from this habit, right?
For example, if I stub my on the edge of the bed I might feel pissed for a while. However, is this going to have a significant effect on my happiness at the end of the day? No!
So it doesn’t make sense for me to determine “stubbing toe” as a negative happiness factor. That would be silly…
(unless you broke your toe of course, that would justify a negative happiness factor…)
My free happiness tracking template includes room for four positive and negative happiness factors. This has always worked for me. Of course, you’re free to do whatever you want!
Step 3: Keep it up and learn!
The last step is to just keep up this process for as long as possible – maybe forever? One happiness rating in itself has basically no analytical value. But as many statisticians know, the more data you collect, the more reliable, interesting and eye-opening the results are going to be.
It will not take long before you are able to spot trends in your happiness.
Pretty soon you will be able to determine what exactly makes you happy in life. And once you know just that, you will be able to create more value in life by focusing on the things that make you happy! Your happiness tracking journal can become your blueprint on how to be happy.
Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 6 years.