Welcome to March, 2014! This is already the fourth post in this series. During this month, I found out that friends make you happy. As much as I am an introvert, being around kind and fun people had a great influence on my happiness. And I made sure I was tracking all that happiness in my journal.
My average happiness rating in March, 2014 was a solid 8,20. This is my highest monthly average so far within this series. The previous month’s happiness report showed a happiness rating of 7,83, so this easily breaks that high. Last month was great in several ways, but there were also some bad days in there. I’m happy to report that March, 2014 was the most constant month I have had so far, and this steady streak of happiness resulted in a great month.
I was still living and working in New Zealand as an intern. This internship didn’t stop me from exploring the country with a couple of close friends, though. I want to tell you more about that in this post.
Before looking at exactly what made me happy and what not, let me show you the monthly happiness graph:
Look at that graph! I might be overly enthusiastic here, but seeing my happiness like this brings a smile to my face. In a way, it makes me happy to see my happiness in a graph like this. I may sound like a complete data geek at the moment, but I cannot deny it. My trailing weekly average rating is almost entirely higher than an 8,0. Amazing.
The table below shows all the happiness factors for March, including the factors that influenced it. By looking at the happiness factors, you might get a general idea of what made me so happy.
If it’s still hard to notice just exactly what made me so happy, here is another chart for you!
This simple graph shows all the positive factors that I have determined during March, 2014, along with the number of days in which they influenced my happiness.
The biggest contributor to my happiness was my close group of friends, and that’s something I want to explore in this post. Out of 31 days, my friends were able to bring me happiness on 14 of them.
Friends make you happy!
Last month’s happiness was mostly dependent on the traveling during the weekends. This month’s happiness was much more constant, which can partially be explained by said friends. I’ll tell you why.
If working and living in Auckland wasn’t already great enough, there’s tons of beautiful beaches scattered around the city. I worked from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, so I tried to meet up with friends at a nearby beach straight after finishing work. That’s what happened on a lot of these weekdays.
Work was still not great in general, but being able to blow off some steam on the beach with friends is simply fun. It had a huge effect on my happiness during the week, especially when compared to February. We either spent the evening around a campfire, kicked a ball or just swam in the sea for a while. Either way, it was impossible for me to not have a great time this way. Even if the work still sucked sometimes, it was all compensated by the relaxing evenings with my buddies. In the end, it made me forget about the job.
From upper left: Surfing in Piha, Omapere, my car in Waipoua Forest, Camping in Waipoua Forest
I also found some form of routine this month. This was my second month working as an intern and I slowly got accustomed to the daily race. It did not make life more exciting, but it allowed me to spend my time more effectively. I found the time and energy to run after work again, which then increased my happiness during 9 days out of the month. I tried to run at least twice a week. Even though the distance I ran was not a lot (5 km), it was enough for me to get rid of frustrations and feel energised again.
I view running as one of my biggest passions. It almost never fails to bring me joy in life, even when I don’t initially feel like running. Not all people are wired this way. I know a lot of people who simply hate it.
But if you are working a mind numbing job or feel like you’re lacking energy at the end of your days, then I cannot recommend some form of routine exercise enough. It is simply one of the most effective ways to turn your mood around after a stressful day. Don’t believe me? Being able to consistently exercise after work allowed me to forget about all the bad stuff. It also gave me a boost in energy, which I then used to do the things I enjoy, like playing the guitar and making noise.
So that’s what I managed to change over March as far as my weekdays are concerned. Everything’s cool? Check? That’s great! That leaves me to the weekends!
My weekends were the biggest source of happiness during the previous month, February. They were simply amazing. Did anything change? ….Nope!
I continued traveling during the weekends with my friends. In March, I was able to travel to the Bay of Islands, Waipoua Forest, Raglan and Waikato. As you may remember, the month started with an overlapping weekend at Piha as well. As nice as the weekdays were, I found the greatest personal happiness during the weekends. And of course, I always made sure my friends were coming along for the ride. That’s because I learned a simple lesson: friends make you happy!
“It is extremely exciting to catch a wave”
The weekend at Piha was amazing. After a beautiful day of hiking and swimming beneath cascading waterfalls, we rented some big boards and spent the afternoon surfing again.
Surfing is quite hard. It’s exhausting, the salty water can mess with your eyes, both the current and tide has to be perfect, and even then there’s the change that you will get your ass kicked by the waves. But that one moment you do land on top of a wave, standing on two feet, that’s what it all comes down to. You can spend more than an hour in the water, struggling with peddling and keeping afloat, but that one successful wave can easily outdo all of that. It is extremely exciting to catch a wave. Even for a rookie like me. Mind you, I wouldn’t describe my surfing skills as anything close to spectacular, but catching a wave still gives me a huge adrenaline rush. It’s just a lot of fun.
The second weekend in March was spent in the beautiful Bay of Islands. This is an area north of Auckland, known for it’s beautiful islands, sandy beaches, snorkelling grounds and dolphin watching. We left on Friday, straight after work, and took off to the north. We spent the night at a small campsite, near the Waipoua Forest. This forest is known for it’s Kauri trees. I’ll tell you this: campsites don’t get much better than this one. Camping in such a beautiful area is absolutely spectacular. The lack of light pollution in these parts of the country allow you to clearly see the milky way. I still consider this to be one of the better nights in New Zealand. Especially since I was accompanied by my friends.
After taking down the tents in the early morning and hiking through the forests, we headed to the Bay of Islands.We spent the day kayaking between the islands, enjoying the weather, relaxing on the beaches and drinking some beers. Absolutely amazing times. At the end of the day. we found another campsite to rest and recharge our batteries for the next day.
On the final day of the weekend, we booked a tour on a catamaran to cruise between the many islands and spot some dolphins. This was another terrific day. I saw a bunch of dolphins and snorkelled with the fishes: things that I had never done before in my life. As icing on the cake, we had a lovely barbecue on one of the islands to finish the day. It was yet another beautiful weekend in New Zealand.
On the third weekend, we all went to the Waikato region of the North Island. This is an area south of Auckland, and is well known for it’s picturesque landscapes. I believe a big part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed here as well, but I might be wrong. Anyway, this was a fantastic weekend again.
We spent the first day surfing in Raglan, a small coastal town known for having the biggest, longest and best break of the entire country. It’s a surfer’s paradise. Especially for rookies like me, as the conditions are just extremely nice and easy-going. This day was (again) filled with lots of adrenaline rushes. Especially since we all gradually got better at surfing. We were catching waves more frequently and made great progress!
“It’s a surfer’s paradise”
That night, instead of camping in a tent, we decided to sleep in my car. I still don’t know why we thought this was a good idea. It was not…. It was a terrible idea! Sleeping in a single car with three adult persons is a nightmare. We were all unable to sleep for even a minute. One of us even rushed out of the car in the middle of the night due to cramps. We were packed like sardines in a crushed tin box. Awful idea, and definitely not recommended.
As a result, the next day was a little more challenging, due to tiredness. But it was still an amazing day. We spent the day underground in one of the many caves in Waikato. It was spectacular. The cave systems are extremely complex and run very deep. As a result, the caves are all filled with glowworms. There is nothing like walking through a pitch black cave, only to look up and see thousands of tiny glimmering lights in the dark. A truly magical experience. On the way back to Auckland, we took a slight detour to enjoy the countryside and have some fun along the way. It’s amazing to me how much you are able to bond during these trips. Being around these people truly increased my level of happiness. My friends made me happy.
This was my best month to date, and it has been amazing to relive these experiences through writing this post.
My relationship was also still alive and well. We managed just fine, and continued to Skype about twice a week. I also got more accustomed to my internship and the daily routine, which decreased my stress levels and headaches. This, in combination with exercising at least twice a week, resulted in a great overall month of happiness.
However, I still have to cover some of the bad experiences, even though there was not a single bad day to be found.
I will keep this section short, as there were only ten factors negatively influencing my happiness during March, 2014. This doesn’t happen too often, and it just shows again how good of a month this was.
I had some difficulties getting my required amount of sleep, though. The busy weekends definitely did not help in this regard. The tiredness had a negative impact on my happiness, but I always managed to regain my night’s rest during the weekdays again. It’s hard to utilise the maximum amount of happiness on a great weekend if you choose to prioritise on sleep. In a certain way, it’s a dilemma. Do you prioritise quality sleep time over fun activities? I occasionally sacrificed my sleep for other things. But I think it only resulted in me being happier, because it allowed me to do more fun things during the day.
That’s it again. I will continue with April, 2014 in the next update. I hope you like reading about my happiness and adventures. If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them!
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 7 years.