I believe tracking happiness can show you how to add more value to your life.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a personal anecdote.
Since I was 8 years old, I have played soccer. This continued untill I was 22 years old. I mostly liked playing soccer. I have some very good memories of playing the game. But as time passed, my close friends changed their priorities. Some got demanding girlfriends, while others got a bad injury. The last of my friends finally went to a different college, and that was the end of the added value of soccer to my life. Playing the game with friends was the sole aspect that made me enjoy it. The game itself was not enough.
I didn’t stop right away, though. I did not know better, and I continued to play the game. Sometimes it was alright, other times it was okay, but most of the time it was just “meh…”. Even though the negative influence on my happiness outweighed the positive influence on my happiness, I still continued playing the game for multiple years. As I said, I simply did not know any better. I was effectively blind on this issue.
Insert happiness tracking
When I took a close look at my journals, I noticed that playing soccer didn’t actually made me a happier person. Sure, it was occasionally a nice way to blow of steam. But most of the time I got home irritated about my team, the opposing team, being on the bench, losing the game or the worst: getting injured. This had a significant effect on my happiness.
By tracking my happiness, I was able to quantify what effect soccer had on my life
Spoiler alert: the effect was negative.
In the meantime, I had already begun to run in my spare time. I participated in some races and thoroughly enjoyed it. I noticed that running had a very positive effect on my happiness, in contrast to soccer. In fact, I noticed that I was generally unhappier when I was not running my weekly miles. So not only did soccer directly influence my happiness in a bad way. It also indirectly made me unhappy, because playing soccer resulted in injuries from time to time. Being injured kept me from running, and not running had a negative effect on my happiness (it still does). It was the perfect storm, and it happened far too often.
I stopped playing soccer
I stopped playing soccer and signed up for a marathon. Ever since, I have been running a lot and have always done it with a smile on my face.* This decision had a great effect on my happiness. I absolutely believe I was able to make this decision with the help of my happiness tracking. Because of my collected data, I was able to spot what was giving me more joy in life.
* As anyone who has ever run a marathon knows, it’s impossible to smile during the last 10 kilometers.
Bottom line: I believe that you can improve your life in a similar fashion if you keep track of your happiness.
If you are looking for more examples on why you should track your happiness as well, please head over to my “Happiness through…” post series.