August was BUSY.
The last couple of months have been busy anyway, but August easily takes the cake. I spent a lot of overtime at work on a number of projects and tried to be productive in my personal life as well. As a result, I got pretty exhausted, which affected my personal life. I was still happy though. Happy but exhausted.
And that is what this Monthly Happiness Report is about.
Let's see how happy I was in August 2018.
So my happiness declined a little bit.
Still, an average happiness rating of 7,72 is still preeeetty good. I still consider myself to be very happy in general. That didn't change in August.
The chart below visualizes exactly what my happiness ratings looked like throughout August. Like always, I have sprinkled some comments to this chart to add some much-needed context.
You can see how August started off REAL good. The first 10 days were practically perfect. I had nothing to complain.
But after these 10 days, I started showing symptoms of my exhaustion.
I got tired, had trouble sleeping well, was easily agitated and work started to push me to my limit.
As you can see, my happiness was negatively influenced by these things...
Oh, and I also got into a car crash on the morning of Monday the 20th. Needless to say, this sucked a LOT and my happiness suffered even more as a result.
But these happiness ratings are only a part of my happiness tracking method. The happiness factors are just as valuable!
The table below shows all the happiness factors that influenced my happiness in August 2018.
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I want to explain to you what my month looked like by showing some of my happiness journal entries.
The month started off with a lovely streak of happy days. I enjoyed my normal life in the Netherlands, and even though work was quite busy, I managed to find the right balance between work and personal life.
Hiking adventure in Germany
The workload at work kept increasing until I finally started a long weekend on Friday the 10th. My father, brother and I had planned to go on a little hiking trip to Germany this weekend. I was really looking forward to this trip, as I would be able to escape the seemingly non-stop chaos at my job.
I could really use some peace and quietness.
I wrote the following on Friday the 10th day of August, which was the last day of my happy streak and the first day of my little hiking trip.
I rated this last happy day with an 8,25 on my happiness scale and wrote about it in my journal:
What a lovely day. I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I was afraid I would feel tired, but it wasn't so bad luckily. So today, my dad, brother and I drove down to Germany for our little hiking trip.
And it was gorgeous. The hiking was very relaxing, the forests are beautiful and I especially like the quitness of being outside. The paths are great and it's actually pretty easy-going. I just had a nice Wienerschnitzel and a German beer for dinner. Not bad!
Just paid 3x 20 cents for the shower on the camping, which gave me 240 seconds of warm water. Also called with my girlfriend for a minute, which was nice. She warns me of being stressed out because of my work, but other than that things are pretty good.
So I'm laying in my little, cosy tent at the moment, and I can actually see the stars. This is exactly what I wanted this trip to be. This feels great.
I do hope I that I'll sleep well though. It's already pretty chilly and it's only going to get worse. My inflatable mattress is broken so that's not really going to help me. We'll see. I'm already happy that today was great and that I can enjoy watching the stars for a minute in total peace...
As you can read from this journal entry, this Friday was really a lovely day for me.
Spending time with my father and brother was really nice, and hiking in the beautiful forests of Germany made it that much better.
We each carried our own backpacks filled with clothes, a tent and sleeping gear since we were going to spend the nights outside on camping grounds. The idea sounded great to me, as I was looking forward to spending a couple of evenings in total peace, without having to worry about work or anything else.
The day ended with me laying in my tent, ready to go to bed.
It was pretty chilly already, and unfortunately, it only got worse...
I rated the next day with a 7,00 on my happiness scale, and wrote about it in my happiness tracking journal:
I slept like shit this night... I hardly got any sleep. I woke up at 02:00 because of the freezing cold and I basically remained awake the rest of the night. My inflatable mattress is broken so it's not very comfortable in the first place. But the cold was by far the worst.
The hiking was alright today. It was a lot harder and I just felt like a complete downer. It was all because of my shitty night. Everything sucked as a result.
I tried to power nap twice during the day, during the hiking and after setting up my tent. But I only felt more miserable after those naps, especially the second one... I'm wondering whether I should even continue this trip or not...
I just hope tonight will be better. Just had a lovely dinner and called with my girlfriend which was nice. I also bought a big-ass jacket, which I hope will keep me warm tonight. We'll see. Gonna try to get some sleep now. Bye bye!
As you can read, I slept like SHIT that first night on my hiking adventure.
I really underestimated the cold temperatures at night, and my lightweight sleeping bag was by no means enough to keep me warm. As a result, I woke up at 02:00 shivering from the cold, and the rest of the night was extremely frustrating.
The next day was shit.
Even though I was hiking in a beautiful area with my family, I wasn't able to lift my depressing, sleep-deprived mood.
The vest that I bought helped a little that next night, but unfortunately I still woke up frequently and suffered from even more sleep deprivation.
As a result, the next day was more of the same and I decided to cancel our last night of camping outside and to go home instead. As beautiful as the hiking trip was, I wasn't able to fully enjoy it because of my terrible tiredness.
And it sucked.
Extremely busy at work
What also didn't have a positive effect on my happiness was the stress at work.
After my hiking weekend, a big deadline was nearing for my team of engineers, and it was time to enter crunch-mode.
Even though I liked being productive at work and working together with my colleagues, I still felt affected by the constant stress of this deadline.
As a result, I worked a lot of overtime and I didn't have much time to relax and to do the stuff I actually enjoy most.
I was happy when the next weekend arrived.
I rated both the Saturday and Sunday of that weekend with an 8,25 on my happiness scale. I REALLY needed those easy days and made sure to catch up on some MUCH needed rest.
Crashing my car on the motorway
The happy mood that I had going for me at the end of that weekend quickly vanished when I crashed my car on the motorway on Monday morning, the 20th of August...
At the time, the holiday season was over in the Netherlands which meant it was very busy on the road again.
My commute covers one of the busiest roads in the Netherlands, which is very prone to accidents. I see it almost every week... This time, I was, unfortunately, part of such an accident.
I was driving on the exit of the motorway when suddenly all traffic halted. The car in front of me braked and stalled within the blink of an eye. My attempt at breaking was futile, and I inevitably plowed into the car in front of me. I also got rear-ended.
It was almost over before I even had the time to react. Obviously, this crash could have been prevented by me, if I had kept more distance. But the deceleration of the car in front of me was so fast that I don't think I could have reacted fast enough anyway. My car simply couldn't keep up.
In the Netherlands, whoever causes damage to the car in front is responsible, no matter what the cause is.
So that obviously sucked for me. Sure, the accident was truly my fault, but the financial consequences still stung.
I only have liability insurance, which means that I'm only insured for the damage I inflict on others. The damage that I inflict on myself or my own property (my poor car) is not insured.
This means that I not only had to deal with my broken car, I also had to start worrying about a replacement...
Again, I want to show you how this influenced my happiness. I rated my happiness with a 7,25 on the day of my car crash, and wrote the following:
Got in a car crash this morning. It was 06:50 on the motorway. The traffic stalled to a complete stop within 2 seconds, which I see way too often. But this time, Corrie (the name of my car) and I couldn't brake fast enough. Fucking hell, not again. I was sandwiched between 2 cars. I plowed into the car in front of me, and got rear-ended a split second after the first hit. The guy that hit me in the back was from Bulgaria, a strange guy...
Anway, my car has the most damage of all. The car that I hit (and that I'm responsible for) has about EUR 1,000 of damage. That's what I expect at least. Could be more... The car that hit me is weirdly fine, not much damage there. Corrie on the other hand...
My radiator is leaking, my grill is fucked, headlights are shattered and I have a dent in the hood.
I parked it on the side of a quiet road and continued walking to work.
Work was surprisingly good. I finally have a little breathing space without the constant stress of a deadline. I also received a lot of compliments about my work, which felt great. I told nobody about my car crash, obviously. I used my time at work to arrange the transport of Corrie and to get a temporary loan vehicle. Luckily, these transports are insured.
I get to hear about the damage to Corrie tomorrow, but I assume it's going to be more than EUR 1,500, after which I'll likely decide to replace her... I don't want to make that decision yet 🙁
My girlfriend was pretty shocked, and she already had a gut feeling when she didn't receive any message. She knew.
Spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching a series. Going to bed now, which I hope will do me good. In the end, I should be happy that I'm still alive and well. These accidents feel like a fucking Russian Roulette. Fuck the traffic. I absolutely HATE it.
A funny thing crossed my mind when I walked the rest of my way to work after the accident: "Now I finally get to walk my way to the office". If only I could walk my way to the office every single day...
You can see how this car crash influenced my happiness, right?
It turned an already busy and stressful period into an even more busy and stressful period.
This was the start of a bumpy couple of days, which lasted right until the end of August... As much as I tried to enjoy my normal life, I continued to struggle with the busy schedule at work, a lack of sleep, being stressed out and controlling my mood.
This is why I call this Monthly Happiness Report "Exhausted but happy".
It was a busy month with quite a lot of negative happiness factors, but I still considered myself to be quite happy. Below average, yes, but still happy in general. 🙂
Let's have a look at the factors that positively influenced my happiness!
Positive happiness factors
The chart below shows all the positive happiness factors of August 2018.
As it is so often, the clear winner here is again my relationship.
Spending time with my girlfriend has really had a positive effect on my happiness in August.
It makes sense since we have now been living together for more than half a year. It's great to know that we can spend time together after a LONG day at work. This quality time really allows me to decompress and to forget about the constant stress.
Last month I also talked about our newfound hobby: taking long walks together.
We happily continued walking together in August, which had a great influence on my happiness. We moved into our new apartment at the start of 2018, so we've been using these walks to simultaneously explore some of the neighborhoods of our new home city.
We also live nearby a forest, which is also a great place to get away from the bustle. 🙂
Negative happiness factors
The chart below shows all the negative happiness factors of August.
The negative happiness factors prove that August was a bit worse than July was for me.
In July, I tracked only 2 unique negative happiness factors.
In August, there were 7 factors that negatively influenced my happiness 15 times. And every single one of these negative happiness factors can be related to the exhaustion I experienced.
Especially the stress and tiredness affected me.
What can I learn from this?
That's a tough question to answer. I know that I need to sleep more. It's something that I've been saying for a long time now, but I still find it hard to actually do. I also know that I need to make sure my work does not get structurally busy. I'm okay with occasionally entering crunch-mode at work, as long as those peaks are frequently alternated with quiet periods. It'll be interesting to see how my work evolves from now on, as I expect things to only get busier.
I can only speculate though. Only the future will tell me what my life will really look like.
All I can do is to try and steer it in the best direction possible. And that's why I track my happiness.
I hope these posts give you a general idea of what tracking happiness means to me. Because I'm tracking my happiness ratings and factors every single day, I am fully aware of what I need to do in order to become as happy as I can be. With that said, I hope I can somehow inspire you to also start tracking your happiness. 🙂
If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I'll be happy to answer you!