Meet Justin: Taking The First Step And Tracking Happiness
Updated 11 April 2019
"I’ve had the pleasure of using Hugo’s happiness tracker for a couple of months now. My name is Justin Maldonado, I work two jobs while working on becoming a personal trainer and pursue my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. I’ve wanted to share my experience with others about how I injected this practice of observing my happiness as part of my daily routine.
Tracking your happiness will instantly show aspects in your life that you might want to improve, however finding a routine is equally as important. Simply finding what makes you happy doesn’t do you any good, I for one love playing video games and watching Netflix. These two combined makes for a relaxing day. However, overindulging can lead to bad habits and neglecting responsibilities. By reflecting on my day and how I felt during the past 24 hours I’m able to pinpoint the opportunities to allow myself happier moments on a more frequent basis. We’re all going to have “bad” or “off” days, the key is finding out WHY."
A brief introduction
This is the story of Justin Maldonado, who reached out to me after having tracked his happiness for a while. He first sent me the following email on the 19th of February:
I really do appreciate the tracker and have told some other friends of mine. Love sharing the convenience factor with using Google Drive and how I'm so excited to reflect and see what are consistent driving forces for my happiness or down moments.
Really can't wait to see the progress after a bit of time!
I naturally asked him how he found Tracking Happiness, and if he wanted to share his experiences with us down the road:
I've been tracking for about 3-4 days so far. I stumbled upon your page from Reddit!
I decided to track my happiness because recently I've come out of a long relationship and was holding myself back in a lot of ways in my life. I've taken on a new role in life as well as doing things with people that make me happy.
I still focus on my responsibilities and have a lot of ambitions and goals moving forward, this allows me to keep a balance in my life. The idea of all of this is to make myself the best version I can be so I have the ability to keep helping others in different areas of their life!
I'd love to share my stories and anything that can help shed some light for others and whatever they may be going through.
So here we are, almost 4 months later, and I couldn't be happier that he's willing to share his experiences with the rest of the world.
I'll step out of this right now, and leave the rest to Justin! 🙂
Justin's Experience with Tracking Happiness
Famous clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson once said:
“You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward. It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).”
Everyone wants to find out what brings them joy.
For the majority of people, feeling happy and having a sense of purpose is what life is about. Some people go their entire life searching for their “why". For some it's traveling, family, or having the freedom to enjoy your time as you see fit. As much as I wish we could wake up and know what we want to do and how to do it, there’s a lot more that goes into the process.
You want to experience as much as you can to find out not only what you’re good at, but more importantly what brings you joy? The only way to find out is by trying random and different adventures. By documenting and reflecting on those adventures, you’ll be able to identify which activities bring you happiness.
By taking the next step of relating an experience to how you feel you’re going to naturally eliminate activities that aren’t positive or bring you sadness. Eating out may seem like the cheaper and quicker method for dinner, but when you remember that bloated feeling you have in the morning you can consciously make decisions to avoid such decisions.
Using the happiness tracker
I’ve had the pleasure of using Hugo’s happiness tracker for a couple of months now. I work two jobs while working on becoming a personal trainer and pursue my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. I’ve wanted to share my experience with others about how I injected this practice of observing my happiness as part of my daily routine.
Tracking your happiness will instantly show aspects in your life that you might want to improve, however finding a routine is equally as important.
Simply finding what makes you happy doesn’t do you any good, I for one love playing video games and watching Netflix. These two combined makes for a relaxing day. However, overindulging can lead to bad habits and neglecting responsibilities. By reflecting on my day and how I felt during the past 24 hours I’m able to pinpoint the opportunities to allow myself happier moments on a more frequent basis. We’re all going to have “bad” or “off” days, the key is finding out WHY.
A day in the life of Justin
As mentioned above, I’m currently learning to become a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness and the first thing to teach any client or friend of mine is creating a system or routine that compliments your current lifestyle.
When we approach systems with restrictions this may result in quicker results, but might not lead to long term solutions. Trying to uproot everything at once can be a recipe for a rebound down the road. A rebound is a process of after a few weeks or even a couple months you’ll fall back into your old routine because you didn’t create a realistic habit for yourself.
The happiness tracker was no different, I’ve made it a point to break up my journal entries over the course of the day. This allows me to reflect more clearly rather than trying to remember the previous 24 hours and the feelings associated with the day.
For example, a typical day for me will begin by checking my emails and getting ready for our production meeting we have every morning. After catching up on my work for the morning I set aside about 10-15 minutes to start my morning’s entry in the Happiness Tracker. This allows me to enter any information from last night up to this point in my current day.
I then continue with a morning workout of roughly 45 min depending and a bit of breakfast. The key is documenting how my workout and nutrition had me feel following the gym. Once I’m home for the day, I’ll update the journal to about the middle of the afternoon and one final time before I lay down for the evening. These multiple checkpoints allow me to input the information and remember details more clearly.
Building good habits that last
I’m a huge believer in making changes in your life for the better. However, they’ve got to be done in a way that promotes long term success and good habits moving forward.
After a month of tracking, I’ve been able to identify the days which are amazing and any days which would fall under a “bad day” and why that happened.
- “Did I wake up late for the gym?”
- “Was I not as energetic during the day due to my diet?”
These are questions I’ll ask myself when I feel a bit down in comparison to a normal basis.
One evening, my friend and I went to McDonald’s and although this doesn’t fit with my typical nutrition, I was having a great time going out with my friend. The following day, however, I felt very tired and my stomach was bloated for most of the day.
By reflecting and entering how I felt in the morning, I was able to identify eating at McDonald’s as the leading factor. This allows you to see the decisions and how the consequences play out the following day. I’m all for having a good time and enjoying yourself, but you’ve got to understand the trade-off by doing so.
My body had adapted to consuming less processed food. These are small choices I’ve got to be aware of on a consistent basis so I can have a realistic and healthy relationship when it comes to food. I’m not sure if I would have been able to identify how I was feeling without Hugo’s tracker.
My life didn’t start off being so focused on myself or self-reflection.
To share a little background, I battled depression for 3 years. I was in a relationship that wasn’t doing either of us any good. We fought constantly and the constant hanging out led to dependence on one another rather than ourselves. Not until October of last year did we finally break up for good.
I am just as guilty of not being the best version of myself for our relationship. I allowed myself to be treated with no respect for my own well being. Without me realizing, I became a member of the large group of people who experience physical and emotional trauma during their relationship. This was easily the worst experience of my life however I’ve come to understand my mindset was completely wrong at the time. I wish her nothing but the best and truly believe at that time in life we weren’t a good fit.
Long story short, we rushed into a relationship without getting to know one another. This was such a simple lesson, however, I wasn’t focusing on my own mental health and let myself slip. I let my weight go, went on autopilot with my family, and made poor decisions that didn’t benefit my well-being.
Regaining control over life
Finally, in October as I mentioned, a switch flipped.
I had the strength to finally separate myself from the relationship and be alone to grow. Focusing even more on the gym and nutrition helped keep my mind busy. I’ve been single for a few months and using the Happiness Tracker allows me to reflect internally and continue to grow.
My goal each day?
Working on becoming the best version of myself to help others achieve theirs. It’s a never-ending journey/process which I enjoy. I mentioned breaking up journal entries over the course of the day to make reflecting much easier and realistic to be done consistently.
After a month of tracking I used the additional tabs to visually see how my days would be rated on a weekly basis. Diet, nutrition, happiness, sleep, and a multitude of other factors helps me in rating my daily happiness. As Hugo mentioned, you may only have one negative and one positive and that’s okay. If a day contains more negative factors, then you’ll find those days to be especially important when creating change.
The Happiness Tracker changed my life.
I’ve talked about this process to a few friends and family. I hope others can see how even minor entries can lead to huge changes. Start slowly by tracking your weekends or your Mondays. I've found that when you try to document every day, it’ll be difficult to carve out time with the list of other responsibilities you might have.
If you have any questions, I know Hugo is always helpful and responds right away to emails. If I can ever be of any help or simply want me to listen to your story, please feel free to reach out.
Everyone deserves to be the happiest and most fulfilled version of themselves possible, this tool allows you to take the first step.
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the entire staircase.“ - Martin Luther King Jr.
That's it. I think this is a truly inspiring story on how you can take control of your life, and I'm incredibly happy to host it here on Tracking Happiness.
One last thing that I noticed: Justin sent a picture of a booking confirmation for skydiving along his article submission. I asked him whether this booking was his and if he was going to make the jump.
Yes, I bought my ticket the other day, I’ll be jumping on July 21st! I’m terrified of heights, however the transformation mentally and emotionally I’ve read about when skydiving is something I would love to experience!
Again, this is just amazing.
I hope his experiences may inspire you to take control of your own life! If you're interested in starting to track your happiness, you can get started right away!
And maybe, if you're interested, you can share your experiences on your progress in a couple of months as well, just like Justin!
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Who runs Tracking Happiness?
My name is Hugo, and I'm from the Netherlands. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering, a passion for data and statistical analysis and am an expert in happiness.
I've tracked my happiness every day for 5 years in a row. And I'm now using my knowledge to inspire you to prioritize your happiness. You see, I'm a strong believer in what gets measured gets managed. I want to show you what I - and many others - have learned while tracking our happiness.
My Happiness Essays have reached thousands of people around the world and have been shared in many places.
With my data, I have inspired hundreds of others to also track their happiness. And I'm hoping this number will only grow more!