February was so much better than January, and I'm stoked about that. January was stressful and intense, but I was able to really take things easier in February. This month includes beautiful weekends, less pressure at work and the BEST weather in February I've ever seen. It's why I call this Monthly Happiness Journal post "Sunny February"!
My average happiness rating was still a 7.93, which was luckily much better than the relatively low 7.25 of January.
At the end of 2018, I created a plan for 2019 in my happiness journal. This plan included more relaxing, less stressing and continuing to spend quality time with my girlfriend.
I'm extremely happy to tell you that I succeeded in all these things in February.
The chart below visualizes exactly what my happiness ratings looked like throughout this month. Like always, I have added some comments to this chart to add context.
Where January had a crappy and stressful start, my happiness was really high at the start of "Sunny February". It began with much needed weekend, during which the weather was simply stunning. The Netherlands can be an ugly place, as the entire country is often covered by a thick layer of clouds. When this happens, I usually have a hard time to enjoy being outside.
But when the weather is good, that's when I absolutely love the Netherlands.
Just look at this picture I took on that first wonderful weekend.
Finding beauty in such simple things - like a lake in a forest - really brings a smile to my face.
Before continuing, let's have a look at what factors influenced my happiness in February.
The table below shows all the happiness factors that influenced my happiness during this month.
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I want to take you back to that beautiful weekend at the start of February. After a stressful January, I made sure to relax as much as possible. No more deadlines, self-made goals or busy schedules. Instead, I just spent time with my girlfriend outside enjoying the weather.
On Sunday, we went for a big walk through the forest near to where we live, and the weather was just stunning. It's where I took the picture of the mirror lake. I think we sat there for 10 minutes just staring at the view. That's what I call relaxing.
You see, I've found out by tracking my happiness over the years that my happiness is mostly determined by the small things in life. I don't need a luxurious life.
The following day, Monday the 4th of February, was another great day. I rated that day with an 8.25 in my happiness journal:
What a lovely day. I took it really easy at work, or at least relatively easy. I was still productive, but it still felt much more relaxing compared to last month. I think my limit is just higher now. I'm still doing a lot of work, but it feels like I'm taking things easier. I think this is a good situation!
When I got home, I really relaxed "my ass off" so to say. Made some music, watched The Office (I just started my first re-watch) and worked on my website a little. I got some amazing news, as I'm getting interviewed by Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Holy shit! I'm hoping this snowball will start rolling soon.
I just went for a run, and finally managed to speed it up again. Ran 5k with an average speed of 13.5 km/hr, which I'm happy with!
For those who are unfamiliar with my happiness journal, I track my happiness every day and determine which factors have influenced my happiness. In addition, I journal as part of this method as it really helps me clear my mind. It's one of the reasons I actually started journaling when I started to track my happiness.
What this journal entry shows you, again, is that my happiness is determined by simple stuff, like running and watching The Office. 🙂
Let's pick another day with a different kind of happiness rating. On Thursday the 7th, I rated my happiness with a 6.5 on a scale from 1 to 10. This is what I wrote about that day in my happiness journal:
Without having any clear reason for it, today was a weird stupid day. Got out of bed at 07:15, turned on my laptop and worked from home today. This should be fucking relaxing - you know, not having to spend time commuting in stressful traffic. But I was actually bored today.
It made me feel undisciplined and agitated. I ate way more than I normally do, wasn't productive at all and felt annoyed. It was actually NOT relaxing at all. I ended up feeling like shit as a result.
Luckily, running cleared my head a little, which was nice. My girlfriend went to the gym after work, so I just spent the remainder of the evening relaxing. It's 22:00 now and I'm going to bed. Apparently I need it.
During the stressful January, I had my yearly review at work. This review went exactly how I wanted, and I got the option to work from home on occasion. I figured this would give me a little less stress, as it allowed me to avoid the grueling traffic.
I obviously don't want to get into another highway crash.
What I didn't expect, however, was that working at home would make me feel unmotivated and lazy.
This is something I need to keep an eye on. If this is how I react to working from a non-office environment, I might want to commute to the office after all.
Luckily, my happiness was back on top pretty quickly and it stayed there for the remainder of the month. This can partially be credited to the beautiful weather in the Netherlands.
My girlfriend and I had booked ourselves a long weekend in a tiny cabin in a National Park in the Netherlands.
This weekend was simply stunning. The weather was actually warm - about 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), so we spent as much time outside every day. This was the quality time with my girlfriend that I wanted when I planned my 2019.
We picnicked in the forest, enjoyed a campfire at our cabin, relaxed in a hot tub heated by a wooden furnace, rented mountain bikes and enjoyed great food. This weekend was GREAT!
The next weekend was more of the same. It resulted in the happiest day of the month. In fact, it resulted in the happiest day of 2019 up to now! I rated my happiness with an 8.75 on Sunday the 24th.
This Sunday was great. A fantastic day with my girlfriend. The weather was beautiful again, so we went for a walk towards the forest. We didn't plan it beforehand, but ended up walking 13 kilometers! It was great.
I love these walks, where we get to step outside our busy lives and just chit-chat about random shit. I love it. At the end of the day, we had dinner at a simple restaurant in the sun, and spent the rest of the evening on the couch. 🙂 Also went for another short run (5k), which was okay. I need to ramp up my miles in preparation for the Rotterdam marathon. Only 1.5 months to go!
Again, it's the simple things in life that make me happy. I don't need to spend a lot of money in order to be happy.
I have to admit, however, that weather like this really helps:
I think it's pretty clear now why I've called this post "Sunny February".
Let's have a look at all the positive happiness factors!
Positive happiness factors
The chart below shows all the positive happiness factors of February.
I want to highlight my relationship here.
Even though I found out over a year ago that my relationship is my biggest source of happiness, I think that essay is long due for an update.
You see, ever since my girlfriend and I started renting an apartment together, our relationship has been fantastic.
Sure, we've experienced a LOT of difficult periods - mainly long-distance periods - but in the end, these periods only made our bond stronger. And I feel we are now happier than ever as a result.
I keep saying that I don't need a lot in order to be happy. But that's true because I find a lot of happiness in doing simple stuff together with my girlfriend. I maybe walked over 50 miles with my girlfriend in February, and every minute of those walks was wonderful. I really enjoy spending time like this together.
That's why my girlfriend was my biggest positive happiness factor in February. Out of 28 days, 16 of them were positively influenced by my relationship! 🙂
Negative happiness factors
The chart below shows all the negative happiness factors of January 2019.
This is where I can really spot the difference between my stressful January and this "Sunny February".
In January, there were 29 factors that had a negative influence on my happiness. In February? Only 9!
I'm really happy with this, as this confirms to me that I'm on a good path. I'm trying to realize the things I set out to do in 2019, and it seems to be working. I'm less stressed, less tired and I am managing to avoid negative factors in my life.
Or do I simply decide to not let them influence my happiness? This is one of the examples of how I try to be self-aware about my own happiness.
Another good example of how great February was: I'm way less tired. Being sleep deprived has been a big negative happiness factor for me in 2018. I've analyzed how much sleep influences my happiness in great detail, and one of the lessons learned from that essay is that I need to sleep more. I was only tired once in February!
That's another win in my book.
Let's hope March will be similarly great.
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!