Hi there, and welcome to my first yearly happiness statistics post of 2014! I will try to highlight my entire year of happiness data in one single post. If it sounds hard, then that's probably probably because it's true. Summarising an entire year of happiness tracking data is challenging. There's definitely value to be found in this yearly recap, though.
2014 was an amazing year for me, and I want to use this post to highlight parts of my data.
Table of content
What am I looking to find out?
Of course, I am looking to find additional value from this post. Therefore, I want to answer the following questions, by looking closely at my data!
- What were the biggest contributors to my happiness in 2014?
- What factors had the biggest negative influence on my happiness?
- Finally, exactly what should I have done to make 2015 an even better year?
Monthly Happiness Reports
As you may know, I have been covering my entire quest for happiness in my Happiness Report series. These posts contain all the context you might need to understand exactly what made me happy. Therefore, if you are interested you can find the link to each monthly happiness report at the bottom of this post!
My happiness ratings
Let me start this section by showing you every single happiness rating of 2014. In the chart below, you can see my daily, moving weekly average and monthly average happiness ratings. As usual, I have included some small comments to add context. It's a rather wide chart, so please feel free to scroll from left to right!
You can probably see that 2014 was a very good year for me. My average happiness rating was consistently between 7,5 and 8,0.
My best days of the entire year were the 22nd and 22rd of February. I rated both these days with a stunning 9,25! These days were part of a weekend trip to Rotorua, a beautiful town in New Zealand. I traveled to this town with a couple of friends, and it was absolutely incredible. This area is littered with exciting things to do, and we tried to do as much of them as possible. We rafted, luged, cliff-dived, visited a festival and a thermal activity park, drank some beers and enjoyed each other's company. It was a perfect weekend in every way possible. You can read the full Monthly Happiness Report for additional context.
In sharp contrast, my worst day was pretty terrible. It was on the 7th of June, and I rated my happiness with a 4,0. I got very sick during my road trip across the South Island of New Zealand. As a result, I spent the entire day above a toilet bowl, doing things I'd rather not describe on the internet... I actually wrote about that specific day in a 'Bad day' post. It was a terrible day, which was almost entirely influenced by my sickness.
In addition to the happiness ratings, I have also tracked the factors that have influenced my happiness. At the end of every day, I determine what makes me happy and what not. It's step 2 in my happiness tracking method.
Based on these happiness factors, I'm able to calculate something that I call a moving weekly happiness ratio. It's basically the number of positive factors divided by the number of negative factors for a seven day period. A high ratio therefore means that my days are influenced by mostly positive happiness factors.
I have included this moving weekly happiness ratio in the chart below. Please note that the happiness ratio is charted on the right y-axis.
You can see how this happiness ratio is rather cyclic. During some periods, my happiness is influenced by almost 20 times as much positive than negative happiness factors. During some other periods, this is the other way around. If it's below zero, it means that my happiness was influenced by more negative than positive happiness factors.
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It's clear that this happiness ratio is pretty much correlated to my happiness rating. This is no surprise, of course. A high happiness rating is caused by positive happiness factors, while a low happiness rating is caused by negative happiness factors.
Let's take a look at all my happiness factors. What exactly made me happy in 2014? That's what I want to find out.
However, I first want to show you a simple overview of all the happiness factors throughout the year. Below pie chart shows the count of positive and negative factors that affected my happiness.
In total, I determined 729 happiness factors during 2014. These are split into 560 positive and 169 negative happiness factors. If you remember the happiness ratio, you can calculate that my overall combined yearly happiness ratio is 3,31 (560 divided by 169). This is a pretty nice ratio, in my opinion. I can expect that for every negative factor, there are at least three positive factors making me happy!
I'm not just interested in the basic count of happiness factors, though. I want to know which factors had the most influence in 2014. Let's start by looking at the positive happiness factors.
The chart below shows a treemap of all my positive happiness factors during 2014. Every factor in this treemap is proportionally sized according to its count, meaning that the biggest tiles had a positive influence on my happiness the most often. You can click on the tiles to see details about each happiness factor.
The biggest positive contributor to my happiness was my girlfriend. Even though we spent nearly 7 months apart during 2014, she still made me a much happier person. The highlight of the year for my relationship was a wonderful 2 week camping trip to Austria and Italy. It was a great time, and we thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. I loved it. If you want to read about the exact influence my relationship has on my happiness, I suggest you head over to my Happiness Essays.
Another huge influence on my happiness was my group of close friends. It should be no surprise to you that close friends can have a tremendous influence on your happiness. I tried to hang out with them as often as possible, and it had a great effect. Also, I met some amazing people while working in New Zealand for 5 months. These people quickly became my friends, and made my time spent traveling a lot more enjoyable. Even though I'm an introvert, I find a lot of happiness in spending time with friends.
You might be surprised to find that work also made the list of biggest contributors. Do I actually like my work? Apparently, I do! Most of this is because I started an amazing trainee program at a huge marine contractor in September. It was an exciting time for me, since I just finished my Bachelors Degree in civil engineering. Working in this new environment definitely increased my happiness.
Also, I was just starting to discover the effect that running had on my happiness. I ran a total of approximately 400 kilometres in 2014, and it greatly increased my happiness *. At the end of the year, I decided that I wanted to run a lot more. More specifically, I wanted to run a marathon. I figured if running makes me happy, why not simply run more? This simple observation changed my life quite significantly. I have been running a lot ever since, and it never fails to increase my happiness. I am going to create a post series specifically for running in my Happiness Essays section.
* As much as I hate it, I lost a bunch of my running logs during 2014. It is therefore impossible for me to accurately determine the total distance I ran.
The last contributor that I want to discuss is traveling. 2014 was the year in which I got bitten by the travel bug. I started tracking my happiness because I was going to travel to New Zealand, but I never stopped doing it. I now know that traveling has a great positive effect on my happiness. If only I could somehow travel the world full time, eh?
I also want to know exactly which negative happiness factor had the biggest effect. As we know, my happiness was negatively affected 169 times during 2014. I have charted every unique factor again in the treemap below.
My relationship, again...?
What might be interesting is that out of all the negative factors, my relationship is actually the worst of them all. What the hell? Wasn't my relationship my biggest source of happiness?
Well, yes, but it wasn't all roses and butterflies. I believe that every relationship is a roller coaster. Some are more turbulent than others, but every one of them goes through ups and downs. My relationship with my girlfriend is no different.
"Every relationship goes through ups and downs"
Our relationship negatively influenced my happiness during 23 days. Luckily, and much more importantly, my relationship provided me with joy on 119 days in 2014. This results in a yearly happiness ratio of 5,17. That's a very positive ratio! So even though we do experience fights, arguments and get annoyed at each other sometimes, we spent a lot more time having fun instead. I think it's the way relationships work.
Do I think this relationship happiness ratio could be higher? Well, maybe. You see, we spent a fair amount of time apart, because I traveled to New Zealand for 5 months and worked on a project for 2 months. These periods generally didn't have a positive effect on our relationship. I therefore believe that my relationship could have had an even bigger positive effect on my happiness, if only we could have somehow spent less time in long distance relationships.
Another big negative influence on my happiness was my tiredness. I had some difficulties getting enough sleep. I have discovered that I need 7 hours of sleep on average to not feel tired. However, there were some periods in 2014 where I consciously choose to not sleep enough: I wanted to spent more time awake. I sacrificed my sleep for short term happiness a.k.a. doing more of the things I liked.
Was this beneficial for my overall happiness? I don't know the definitive answer to that. I think sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't. If I sacrifice my sleep for a fun night out with my girlfriend, I would gladly accept the tiredness the following day. However, I sometimes took it too far. Sleep deprivation is something that can seriously affect your happiness, and systemically sacrificing sleep for short term happiness is not a good idea. I'm going to write a dedicated post about the effects of sleep on happiness in my 'Happiness Essays' series.
Finally, my work was also a big source of misery, despite it being a source of happiness too. My work during 2014 could be divided in two parts: working as an intern in New Zealand and working as an engineer in the Netherlands. In general, working as an engineer made me happy quite often. On the other hand, working as an intern in New Zealand was sometimes simply terrible. I don't exactly look back to that experience with a smile on my face.
My work was a source of happiness when I started working as a trainee engineer, and a general source of misery during my times as an intern. The data confirms most of my emotions here as well. I kind of hated my internship in New Zealand at the end.
What can I do to make 2015 an even happier year?
Of course, this is the most important question that I want to answer based on my data. I'm writing this post a little too late, but I think it's still valuable to see what I should have focused on in 2015. It will also give me something to reflect on by the time I get to analyse the numbers of 2015!
I think the easiest subject is that I should be running a lot more. For me, running is one of the most constant sources of happiness in my life. If I have a crappy day, I go running, and I will instantaneously feel better. It's amazing, really. I ran approximately 400 kilometres in 2014. At the start of 2015, I challenged myself to not only run more than 500 kilometres, I also wanted to finish a marathon! Based on my data, this was definitely going to have a positive effect on my happiness!
No more long distance relationship!
Also, my relationship has been a great source of happiness. But as we discovered, it was also occasionally a negative factor for my happiness. Most of these negative experience were caused by a long distance. I was either on the other side of the world, or working on a project away from home. This significantly limited our communication and happiness.
So my goal for 2015 was to increase the quality of our relationship, by reducing the amount of long distance periods. Since this long distance caused most of our irritations, we should just stay close together in order to improve our relationship, right?
Totally! If only we could plan our lives so easily 🙂
2015 had other plans, but you can read more about that in my Happiness Reports.
Friends and family
Anyway, I wanted to spend more time with friends and family in 2015. This one is quite obvious again. Hanging out with my friends and spending quality time with my family often made me happier, so why not do more of it? I especially felt like I missed out on a lot of family time in 2014. I was away for 5 months, started working full time and finished my college, so 2014 was quite a busy year. But it was no excuse, though. I wanted to spent more time with my family in 2015. This feeling only increased after I lost my grandfather at the end of the year.
Finally, according to my data, I should try to work more often, since it made me a happier person in general. It made me happier on 60 days and had a negative influence on 23 days: a positive ratio! Now, this is where my data can provide false conclusions.
I was still a civil engineering student during most of 2014, and I only started really working late in the year, in September. In September, my work was still new and exciting! Was this going to continue? Was this work still going to be new, exciting and fun after doing it for an entire year? Probably not!
Either way, I was going to find out in 2015. I was going to continue my career as an engineer at the marine contractor, whether I'd like it or not! It will be interesting to see what results I can share with you when I finish analysing 2015.
I'll stop here before this post gets too long. I can obviously continue for an eternity, but I'll not bore you with any more details.
If you are interested in reading more about my specific monthly happiness, I suggest you continue reading my monthly happiness reports!
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I hope you enjoyed this first Yearly Happiness Statistics post. It requires quite some effort to build these posts, but I value them nonetheless. It enables me to see exactly what I should focus on in my life. After all, happiness is the only thing that we should pursue in this life.
If you have any questions whatsoever, please leave a comment below! I'll gladly answer any questions you might have!