July was a month of ups and downs. I was lucky enough to have some great and happy moments in July, but they were unfortunately overshadowed by some sadness.
For those of you who read my updates on here (I know you’re out there!), apologies for the late update on my monthly happiness. In this update, I want to share what moved my happiness to pretty deep lows and some awesome highs.
Let’s get right into it.
Here are my personal happiness ratings, neatly presented in a simple line chart:
My average happiness rating of July 2020 was 7.33. This is quite a bit below my usual average, and it’s all because of that huge dip at the start of July.
My happiness was really shit at the start of July, and there were 3 main reasons for this:
1. My job was really stressful
I had a huge deadline at work again, and so it was time for crunch mode. This meant some long and intensive days, after which my brain was completely drained of energy. As a result, I had no fuzz left to do any of the things I normally enjoy doing.
2. Physical pain in the chest
I had to go to the doctor’s for some medical checks, as I experienced something I’ve never felt before. It started with a couple of sleepless nights. These are not rare for me, and probably not entirely unrelated to the stress at my work.
But what followed after was a constant feeling of high pressure on my chest, combined with pains and shortness of breath. It was hard to describe, but it felt like someone had swung a jackhammer on my chest. It was like it was bruised up, and after a couple of days, I made an appointment with my doctor.
He tested me for the basics, and surprisingly, both my blood pressure and its oxygen levels were perfect. In order to rule out any heart rhythm disorders, he refered me to a clinic that specializes in diagnosing these kind of things.
As a result, I had to wear an ECG device for a full week. They told me it would be a small device that would monitor my rhythm for a week. What they didn’t tell me, however, was that I would be covered in patches (5 of them), each connected with a long and clumsy wire that would wrap around my chest area. To say it was irritating would be a massive understatement.
It was a lot harder to relax with these electronics on me, as they made me feel like the freaking terminator.
3. Our family dog had to be euthanized
Of all the things that caused me sadness in July, this was by far the worst.
Our dog was put to sleep at the vet due to a condition he was struggling with for a long time. What sucked most is that he was a really sweet and good dog. In another universe, he could have lived a long and happy life, which made it all the more conflicting to say goodbye to him. His name was Frodo, and a couple of months ago, I tried to draw a picture of him as a little puppy.
I know some people don’t understand the relationship some people have with their pets, and are inclined to say “eh, it was just an animal”.
But for me, it really felt that I lost a part of me. It truly sucked, and it caused the bulk of my unhappiness in July. I still miss him a lot.
Sadness is something that is part of every life. That fact doesn’t make it suck any less, though. But I knew that I’d be happy again after a while. It just took some time before I completely got over this loss…
My monthly happiness journal updates usually start with the positive stuff, but this month was a bit different than other months.
Negative happiness factors
Here’s how all this sadness translated to the negative happiness factors in July:
I think it’s clear here why July had such a shit start…
But you know what they say:
Don’t be afraid of the shadows, that only means there’s a light nearby.
There were also plenty of happy moments in July.
I quit my job!
As I sneakily mentioned in a previous post, my girlfriend and I have been planning a sabbatical for a long time already. And even though this pandemic thing has forced us to change our plans more than once, we are still pushing through!
At the end of June, I gave notice to my employer that July would be my last month. So even though I was stressed out at the start of the month, I knew that it would be the last time for a long time!
After that stressful period, I basically coasted my way to the finish line. I finished my remaining tasks, I handed over ongoing projects to my colleagues and said my farewells.
The last day at the office was also one of the happiest days of the month. As you can see in the graph at the start of this post, I rated that day with an 8.75!
I wrote the following about it in my happiness journal:
LAAAAAAAST DAY. OMFG.
Started the day in the office at 08:30 and wrapped up the last bits. It was actually quite busy again, with all the people that came to say goodbye and wished me good luck. At 12:30, I handed in my laptop, badge and walked out of the office. FUCK YEAH.
I drove out of the gates for the last time, and it felt unreal. I imagined this moment so many times before. On my way back home, I couldn’t stop myself from whistling/singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” haha. I was really happy that moment.
As soon as I got home, my girlfriend and I went to the local swimming pool. We spent the entire afternoon there, relaxing in the sun and swimming in the pool. Lovely.
We went for dinner afterward, which was a nice way to end the day. We had a lot of fun and the food was great. When we got back at 23:00, we crashed in bed. What a great fucking day. Just great.
My ECG turned out “fine”
The monitoring device didn’t find anything that would cause alarm bells to go off during the 7-day period. There were a couple of weird things, though:
- My lowest heartrate was 32 BPM, which happened in my sleep one night.
- My heart showed some “Wenkebach blocks” (I had to Google that one before I fully understood it!). One of these lasted 2.7 seconds. From what I understand, it means that my heart didn’t receive the proper electric pulse it requires to keep its regular rhythm for 2.7 seconds.
Apparently, these things are not dangerous as long as they don’t happen when I’m heavily exercising. This luckily didn’t happen.
The conclusion from this test? My symptons are most likely stress-induced, and will likely go away as soon as I’m in calm waters again.
At the time of writing this, I’m happy to say that they were right. I’ve been less stressful and have not had any symptons again. 🙂
(If you’re a cardiologist or anything and have some bad news upon reading this, please let me know! ;-))
Finding happiness again
After the shitty start of July, there were a couple of great days that helped me find happiness again.
For example, I spent a great weekend away with friends. We all pitched our tents in an empty field and told jokes around a campfire all night long. It was great.
My girlfriend and I also tried to do things that make us happy. We went running together a lot, visited a lot of friends and spent some time with our families.
I also went skating as much as possible, just like the last couple of months. As usual, this had a great impact on my happiness.
How did all these things translate into my positive happiness factors?
Positive happiness factors
Here are the positive factors that influenced my happiness in July:
There are a couple of factors that I’d like to highlight here:
The 3rd biggest happiness factor in July was gaming. For those of you who also own a PlayStation 4, you may have an idea of what caused this! 😉
I had already bought The Last Of Us: Part II near the end of June, but I finally found the time to play the game after the deadlines at work had passed.
I have to say, it was the perfect distraction to take my mind off the negative factors that were affecting my happiness. This game is an absolute MASTERPIECE, and I loved every moment of it.
Reddit is one of the positive happiness factors in July?! I published an article about the happiness survey we conducted. This article is about controlling happiness and how it correlates to happiness ratings.
I posted some of the results on Reddit one day, and they reached the front page within a couple of hours! Reading through the hundreds of comments made me really happy, especially considering how much time was put into the study!
And finally, one of the factors that positively influenced my happiness in July was my work. After having had a negative impact for so long, I got to end it on a happy note.
What made this day a happy day at work? My close colleagues took me out to dinner after work, and we got to chat about my 6 years with the company. It was a really nice way to end a big chunk of my life!
That’s it for another monthly update. I’m looking forward to seeing you back here again next month.
How was your July? What would you rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10 this past month? Let me know in the comments below!
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.