Welcome to my third monthly happiness report! As you may have read in the previous post in this series, I was living in New Zealand at this time in my life. I think it was this month where I finally got bitten by the travel bug. Very exciting times. Last month ended with a string of very, very good days. In February, I was hoping to continue those amazing days. Mainly by traveling as much as possible. Unfortunately, I also started my internship in February. Let’s have a look at what happened during this month!
My average happiness rating in February, 2014, was a 7,83. This is almost the same as it was last month. It is a bit surprising though. Why? Because last month ended on a high, due to traveling to heaven on earth, New Zealand. I was still living there for the entirety of February, but I was still not able to continue the high level of happiness.
Before looking at exactly what made me happy and what not, let me show you the monthly happiness graph:
“I tend to think I could have been happier, had I known what was happening”
In contrast to last month’s happiness graph, this month’s happiness ratings are a lot more choppy. The peaks are high. Actually, these high ratings are still some of the best days of my life. But at the same time, the dips are pretty low. Some of these days were just not fun at all, but I will get to those in a second. Overall though, the happiness ratings are still very good. Who am I to complain? But I tend to think I could have been happier, had I known what was happening.
The table below shows all the happiness factors for February, including the factors that influenced it. This will give you an idea of why I wasn’t able to continue the happiness high’s of last month.
I have summarised the positive happiness factors below:
This simple graph shows all the positive factors that I have determined during February, 2014, along with the number of days in which they influenced my happiness.
To fully understand what’s happening here, I’ll briefly describe my situation living as a foreign intern in Auckland, New Zealand. I had found this internship via an internship broker. This company provided internships for all kinds of people, and they were all scattered around the area. It didn’t take long for me to meet a lot of them and make some friends along the way. These people were all here for the same reasons. Primarily, to see as much of New Zealand as possible during their limited time in the country and secondarily, to complete their internship. The primary goal for everybody I met was to travel as much as possible. We shared a common goal. We were all in the same boat.
Luckily for me, I just bought my beaten up car, so I was able to plan amazing weekend trips to all the amazing sights to see on the North Island of New Zealand. It wasn’t hard to find fun and similarly-minded people to join me on these trips. I began to plan the days that would turn out to be some of the best days of my life.
The travel bug
New Zealand is the most beautiful country I have ever been to. It still is. It’s where I got bitten by the travel bug. During the month February, I spent 4 weekends traveling. The first two of them were surfing weekends to Muriwai Beach, just 40 minutes from North Auckland. I had never surfed before, so this was going to be interesting.
We rented quite long boards, so it didn’t take long before we were all able to “catch” a few waves. I don’t want to make it seem like a big deal: we were just surfing the white water on giant boards, so the difficulty level was not that high. But I was having a blast anyway. It was something I would definitely do again!
On the third weekend we all headed out to Rotorua, a small city in the middle of the North Island known for its thermal activities. Spoiler: I rated this weekend with a 9,25! This was, and still is to this day, one of the best weekends I ever had. The group of people that I was traveling with slowly became my friends. We shared amazing experiences and all had a blast. We went to a thermal park, did some luging (click here to see what this is), went to a local festival and spent an afternoon rafting on a white water river.
I was especially surprised by how much I loved the rafting. The chaotic waters, the drops and the speeds are extremely exciting and fun. I honestly don’t think anyone could not enjoy it, really. The effect of adrenaline on my happiness is incredible. I was filled with joy because of this experience. After the rafting, we headed back to the river to take some pictures, but we got treated with something much better. Some local guys where jumping from overhanging trees on the edge of the river next to a big waterfall. I think the jumps were about 10 meters high. I didn’t take us long before we wanted to try it out as well.
Doing something that is initially scary could be rewarded with incredible amounts of happiness. That’s what I experienced. I was scared shitless climbing the overhanging trees. But the minute I jumped and hit the water, I felt a giant rush through my body and was smiling from ear to ear. The adrenaline was working at full speed, and it definitely effected the happiness ratings.
I knew I had to do stuff like this more often while in New Zealand.
During the last weekend of February, I went back to Piha again. I had already spent a day there at the end of the previous month, but now I was bringing my friends for an extended weekend trip. This was also going to be the first camping trip. We bought some cheap camping gear, stuffed the back of my car and found a great little spot to set up camp.
The area around Piha is amazing for short hikes. After only 30 minutes of hiking, we stumbled on a beautiful cascading waterfall. The waterfall consisted of multiple drops, each with a big pool perfectly suitable for the underwater dip. The waterfall ran into a valley, and we had front row seats to the simply breathtaking views. It didn’t take long before I was smiling from ear to ear again. Man, I wish I could go back.
This weekend trip started at the end of February, so there’s some overlap with March. I’m going to leave some of the great experiences for the next month. I also still have to cover some of the bad experiences.
At the start of this post, I stated that the overall happiness rating might have been higher. I’ll try to explain here why I think that.
February was a great month in general, but there were some things taking me down. Especially during the weekdays. I started my internship in February, and let’s just say it was not a match made in heaven. My internship consisted of regular office work and working on my thesis. According to our agreement, I was allowed to spend approximately 30% of my time on my thesis. It started off alright, but I soon found out I was not going to get the time I required for my thesis. Some particular workdays were simply terrible. I was sometimes only used as cheap labour, which the company disguised as an educational experience (we received no pay). There was also a co-worker which didn’t really enjoy my presence, and he made sure I noticed.
“Some particular workdays were simply terrible”
Look, I don’t want to use this space to be a whining bitch and to point fingers, but I have to admit that this situation greatly decreased my happiness. The days were long and dull, and I was usually counting down the minutes. On some days, I even got home with headaches and a lack of energy, which then kept me from exercising or running. It was a bad influence on my happiness, especially since there were only two weekend days after each workweek. That’s why this month’s happiness ratings could have been higher. I decided to sit it out, knowing that I still needed to finish my thesis and Bachelor’s degree. I decided there was no way around this.
Long distance relationship
In the meantime, I still had a relationship with my girlfriend. We were living on different sides of the globe, struggling with a 12 hour time difference. Both of us had zero experience with a long distance relationship, but I’m happy to report that we managed just fine.
Sure, there were 3 days in which my relationship had a negative effect on my happiness, but this was heavily compensated by the 7 days in which my relationship made me happier. To be sure, this was obviously the same relationship! We tried to Skype 2 to 3 times a week, and were always glad to see one another and share stories. A long distance relationship can be very challenging – as I found out quite some time later – but at this point in time, we were generally okay.
That’s it for now. I’ll continue to cover March, 2014 in the next post. I still have a lot of ground to cover before I catch up to the present. I hope this post series gives you a general idea of what’s possible when you structurally track your happiness. 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 6 years.