What You Can Learn From Tracking Your Happiness

(First Community Post!)

Looking back, there were many warning signs: The verbal abuse, the deception, irresponsibility and lack of mutual respect. I ignored many of these signs because I really wanted the relationship to work.

The ability to look back and review my own thoughts provides a unique insight into the workings of my own mind at a certain point in time, and enables me to see how much I've changed since then. It's almost freaky, how different I was back then.

- Sanjay

I am super excited for this.

This is the first community post here on Tracking Happiness. Joining us here is Sanjay, and he is about to share what he has learned from tracking his happiness for the past half year.

Sanjay is a curious person, a writer, and avid self-optimisation enthusiast. He can best be described as a multipotentialite.

What's a multipotentialite, you ask? You can find out more about it on his website The Polymath Ideal.

I hope that this post can inspire you to also start tracking your happiness! But enough about that! Let's dive straight into Sanjay's  story! I'm proud to present the first shared experiences of the Tracking Happiness community.

Let's go. From here out it's all Sanjay.

Tracking Happiness: My results

A curious thing happens when you start tracking your happiness. In fact, for me, it was more than that.

It began with a simple routine of recording my happiness levels every day. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but soon enough (and I'm not exaggerating when I say this), my life started changing.

I've now been tracking my happiness for over half a year now, and I'm currently on a 228 day streak! I also conducted a small scale study in which I asked participants to join me in a two week experiment to track their happiness. Here are the results of that study:

Here are some of the things I've learned so far:

1. I Could Manage My Reactions Better

As a person, I tend to be inside my head quite a lot and often find myself lost in my thoughts.

After I started writing about my daily habits, my emotional state, and the activities I did daily, I eventually started becoming more self-aware. First, I became aware of changes in my mood. This made it a lot easier to better manage my response in most situations.

I think I started dealing with people a lot better after I learned to become aware of my own moods and what was causing them. For instance, I realised that sometimes I got snappy at people because of something completely unrelated.

Once I became aware of this, I was able to manage that reaction and remind myself not to make any rash decisions or say something I wouldn't be able to take back.

This eventually led to the second thing I learned throughout my time tracking happiness.

2. I Could Understand Other People Better

Noticing my own behaviour helped me become more in tune with how other people might be feeling.

If people were acting strangely or being short with me, I was more aware that they could have many things on their plate, and that sometimes their behaviour was not personal at all.

Just recently, I was having some trouble with a close friend. Our friendship had taken a strange turn and we hadn't spoken to each other in a while although nothing obvious had happened to drive a wedge between us.

It took me a while, but I eventually decided to give them a call and find out what was going on. In just two minutes, the entire issue was cleared up! It turns out that our friendship wasn't the problem at all, it was something personal that they were going through, so I offered my support, and we went back to normal!

Most of all, I think I learned to be more understanding and patient with others, rather than taking things personally and unnecessarily escalating things.

3. I Could Learn From My Mistakes

Around the time I started tracking my happiness, I was trapped in a toxic relationship. I didn't realise it at the time though, so I kept trying my best to fix things, not realising that my girlfriend didn't want our relationship to improve.

Looking back, there were many warning signs: The verbal abuse, the deception, irresponsibility and lack of mutual respect. I ignored many of these signs because I really wanted the relationship to work.

My experiences tracking happiness
This chart indicates my worst month of 2017. The erratic changes were terrible for my state of mind.

During this time, I became extremely unhappy and my happiness data indicated that I was at an all time low. Even though it was clearly this relationship that was causing most of it, I couldn't bring myself to leave.

Eventually, I reached my breaking point and left her for good. I had also been living in an extremely pessimistic environment up until then, and I left that too. My happiness levels started shooting upwards and began to stabilise.

Looking back on my journal from that period, it astounds me that I allowed myself to stay in that situation for so long. I could see from the way I was writing about my experiences at the time that I was completely blind to the real issues in my life and wasn't thinking rationally.

The ability to look back and review my own thoughts provides a unique insight into the workings of my own mind at a certain point in time, and enables me to see how much I've changed since then. It's almost freaky, how different I was back then.

I think if you attempt this, it will be very interesting to look back on your past self and be able to read your own thoughts. You might be surprised at the fact that you can hardly recognise yourself.

4. The Process of Writing Helps Me Deal With Issues

A lot of the time, people tend to find themselves in a chaotic headspace when they have a lot on their plate, and I am no exception.

I found that writing about my emotional state and describing issues in detail forces me to confront them and take the time to deconstruct them. This usually allows me to understand the issue, and that calms the chaos in my head. You can think of this as clearing the RAM in your system.

Observing a problem seems to have the effect of making it lose its grip on me. I'm not the only one who says this: Jordan Peterson, a well known clinical psychologist, talks about this phenomenon and encourages the process of writing as a way to deal with unresolved issues.

The Strongest Link to Happiness

I started looking into the factors that affected my happiness and noticed that for me, idleness is a major cause of unhappiness. I don't like spending my day watching tv shows, for example. I'm far happier when I'm engaged in various activities. This is why I've started working on so many experiments and challenges. They are engaging and make me feel much happier.

A major factor that leads to happiness for me is the quality of the relationships I have with people. The number of people do not matter as much as the strength of the bond I have with them. I'd like to leave you with this study conducted by Harvard and you can tell me what you think! In fact, I encourage you to try tracking happiness yourself and see what your findings are.

Where to Go From Here

I’ve since developed a routine and created my own Happiness Blueprint that I find really helps me personally and perhaps might help you too!

If you’re wondering how this has helped me, I’ve gone from one of the worst periods in my life to finding the motivation to complete challenges like Learning to Code in 12 Weeks and the Portrait Challenge.

I hope you will try this for yourself and I’m challenging you to keep a journal or share about your experience right here on the Happy Blog!

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