Aaaah.... The last month of my terrible long distance relationship period has finally arrived! Hurray! My girlfriend was finally heading back to the Netherlands at the end of this month, and I was hoping that this entire Relationship Hell would be over after the end of the month. I just needed to survive and keep doing what I was doing for one more month. I want to show you what my life looked like at the time, and how I was tracking my happiness.
Let's take a look at the monthly average happiness data.
An average happiness rating of 7,61. That's not too bad, right? Especially since I was theoretically still in Relationship Hell. Sure, my happiness had been higher in the past, but I was still recovering nicely from the unhappiest episode of this entire period.
Before diving into the details, I have to warn you: my life was not very exciting at the time. I was living the most routine life I've ever lived. My days consisted of work, work, work, running, gaming, eating and sleeping.
That's all. It was okay from a happiness point of view: I avoided challenges and big distractions, and was living life on auto pilot. At the time, I lacked the energy and drive to pursue and accomplish new challenges, and was just waiting for this entire period to be over. I was traveling the road with the least amount of resistance. Avoiding additional dissapointments was on the top of my priority list, as sad as it may sound.
With that said, I think a 7,61 as an average happiness is actually pretty good. But what's the story here?
Let's take a better look into the happiness ratings.
The chart below visualizes exactly what my happiness looked like throughout the January, 2016.
This chart is already very interesting to me. I've stated in the intro that I was merely trying to survive by avoiding any challenges. Well, apparently, that strategy was working. Even though I wasn't as ambitious or energetic as I normally am, I was still relatively happy. I was enjoying my quiet and uneventful life again!
I was still in a long distance relationship, which obviously didn't increase my happiness. But at the same time, that long distance relationship didn't bother me as much as it did before anymore. I was mostly unaffected by it in January, 2016.
What's even more interesting here, is that my happiness actually dropped after my girlfriend returned from her period abroad. Wasn't this Relationship Hell supposed to be over by that time??
Let's have a look at all the happiness factors that had an influence on my happiness in January, 2016.
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Time for a little context to my happiness ratings. Ready?
The last few days of January, 2016 can be described without a lot of words: they were relatively shit. Plain and easy.
What the hell happened? Wasn't this supposed to be great, fabulous, glorious and wonderful after so many months? Was I not reunited with my girlfriend, after surviving a very challenging 5 months in a long distance relationship?
A peek inside my journal
I want to show you a small excerpt from my happiness tracking data, as it perfectly describes the situation I was in at the time. I wrote this about the 29th of January.
Me and my girlfriend went back home after I finished working. It was alright. She is still jetlagged, so she went to bed at 7 PM. It was not what I hoped it would be, but I can understand it. The day after, however, was just weird. It's like a lot has changed now that she's been away for such a long time. She acknowledges this as well, but can't tell me how we can improve this. At this moment, her mind is still fixated on traveling and the way of life in Australia. That leaves me a little bit further down on her list of priorities. I don't know what it is... The fact that she seems to struggle with these feelings unsettles me a bit as well. Where do I stand? I simply don't fucking know. Long story short, I feel miserable...
So there you have it. Even though our long distance period was officially over on the 27th of January, our relationship was still unstable and questionable. So in addition to not having the energy nor motivation to challenge myself into pursuing additional sources of happiness, I was also unsettled again by the state of my relationship.
This entry in my journal actually continued for quite a bit longer. I used my journal to get rid of all my negative emotions, so you can probably imagine how this entire entry became really depressing. Let's just say that I was feeling like a train wreck, and it continued like this for 2 days.
At the end of the month, on the 31st of January, this situation finally broke me into millions of tiny pieces. On that night, my girlfriend and I had yet another argument, and it was the straw that finally broke my back.
The result was not something I feel comfortable sharing here online, but it resulted in tears, tissues and a lot of sobbing and discussing the future of our relationship. I find it quite difficult to talk about this series of events, and it's even more difficult to publish this online. But I feel like this was a critical time for me and my girlfriend. During all of our time together, I had never felt that kind of doubt and uncertainty before.
I'm quite an emotionally preserved person, meaning that I tend to keep my hardships to myself. Well, every little bit of frustration and grief that I had built up at the time exploded during that evening. I couldn't keep these emotions inside anymore, and I had to explain to my girlfriend that this whole situation was not something I wanted to continue with. It was a breaking point for our relationship, after spending almost 3 years happily together.
This evening triggered something in both of us, and it was the realisation that this could be the end of our relationship. We had discussed this before when we were still thousands of miles apart, and we previously decided to fight for our relationship. This time, however, it was different. This situation was loaded with a much more depressing vibe, especially since I finally opened my floodgates and started explaining my deepest emotions about this issue. I was pretty scarred from the past 5 months, and was wondering whether or not we could continue at all.
Should I have opened up about my deepest feelings earlier? Probably.
Anyway, we again decided that we would try to mend our relationship. We were in a crisis, yes, but there was a way out. We just needed to work hard for each other.
It was the start of a long recovery. This recovery didn't happen overnight. It was a long process with ups and downs, but eventually we fully recovered.
I have discussed the effect of my relationship on my happiness in a big-ass article. If you want to know more about our relationship, you might like this one 😉
I will leave the rest of our road to recovery - relationship 2.0 - to the next monthly happiness report.
Positive happiness factors
If you're still with me despite all this depressing talk, then I'm happy to inform you that there were also positive happiness factors in January, 2016! 🙂 I've visualised these factors in the chart below.
This chart confirms that I was really focused on living my happy, dull and uneventful. The happiness factors are very similar throughout each and every day. The bulk of my happiness came from 2 factors: running and exercising. These happiness factors made me happy 24 times, both on 12 days each.
The remaining positive happiness factors combined made me happier 16 times. This already indicates how standardised my life was at the time. I was enjoying mostly the same things, day-in, day-out.
Trusty old running
I continued to run as much as possible knowing it would almost always make me a happier person. I started the year with a half marathon race on the 3rd of January. It was a beautiful way to start the year. I had the goal to beat a 1:50:00 time, and I crushed it by finishing in 1:48:30. I was very happy with myself. 🙂
My brother and sister also joined me on this race. My brother was quite a bit faster than I was (crossing the finish line in about 1:40:00) and my sister surprised us all by finishing under 2:00:00 without serious training. The fact that I got to run with my family made this day even better. As you can see in the interactive table I've previously shown you, my happiness was higher as a result of this half marathon.
I continued running throughout the rest of the month. After finishing my first ever marathon in October, 2015, I had signed up for my second marathon in April, 2016. So I couldn't exactly sit still. I had a to train as much as possible. As predicted based on my previous happiness tracking data, this running had a fantastic effect on my happiness. It helped me deal with the mental challenges I was facing, and was actually really therapeutic for my mind.
In addition to running, I decided I wanted to start exercising more again. I had exercised vigorously in the past before, when I was in Costa Rica on a challenging project.
I knew exercising could have the same kind of effect as running had on me. It was yet another way for me to blow off some steam, and it worked very well. Not only did it increase my happiness ratings, it also made me physically stronger and fitter. I actually managed to decrease my fat percentage nicely with this amount of exercise. You could argue that this eventually resulted in more happiness again. Who knows? 🙂
Negative happiness factors
I've visualised the negative happiness factors in the chart below.
As you might be aware by now, I was living my life on autopilot this month. That meant that I was generally avoiding all kinds of challenges and obstacles. If I would have looked up the word Routine in a dictionary, it would have described my day-to-day life.
If you're running low on imagination, I've gone ahead and visualised this thought as well. 😉
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is: my boring routine worked! Yes, it might have been relatively dull, but at least I was quite happy because of it. You can tell by the relatively low number of negative happiness ratings. My relationship was obviously topping this list, but the other factors were actually not really significant.
My goal was to survive this period of Relationship Hell, and I was happy to see my strategy was working to some extent.
And with that said, I want to finish this Monthly Happiness Report.
I had finally reached my breaking point in January, 2016, and it was clear to me and my girlfriend that our relationship needed to change. It was a do-or-die kind of scenario. It will be interesting to see how this scenario unfolded in February. More on that later!
If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I'll be happy to answer you!