After tracking my happiness for yet another full year, I’m here to show you the results! 2016 was a fantastic year for me, and an improvement over 2015 on just about anything. I will do my best to explain exactly what I improved on in this post. How exactly was 2016 a better year for me than 2015? How much happier was I really? Let’s dive straight into the data!
I’ve created another animation, showing what my happiness looked like in 2016. This animation shows my daily happiness ratings, along with the monthly and weekly moving averages. The bar charts at the bottom show the biggest happiness factors during a moving 28 day period. So whatever happiness rating you see in the graph, you can see directly which happiness factors had an influence at the time.
Table of content
I’ve been able to create the animation above after tracking my happiness for the entire year. Not only have I tracked my happiness, I’ve also kept track of what factors influenced my happiness. This has been going on since the end of 2013. In this article, I want to explain exactly what I gain from tracking happiness, and how I could use this data to steer my life in the best direction.
What exactly am I looking to find out?
- What were the biggest contributors to my happiness in 2016?
- What factors had the biggest negative influence on my happiness?
- Was there anything I could have done to further increase my happiness?
In last year’s report, I used the opportunity to see how I could consciously turn 2016 into a better year. What emerged were three key topics I wanted to focus on.
- No more long periods of work abroad
- No more long distance relationship
- Even more running!
Let’s see if I succeeded with these goals in 2016, shall we? 🙂
My happiness ratings
Let’s start again with one of the easiest questions: was I happier in 2016 compared to 2015?
My average happiness rating in 2015 was 7,54. This was a pretty significant decrease over the year before, which was fuelled by a terrible long distance period with my girlfriend and a pretty difficult period on a project abroad.
I’m happy to report that 2016 was my happiest year so far! My average happiness rating of the year was 7,91! An awesome increase! I will explain exactly what I think caused this sharp increase.
But let me first show you every single happiness rating of 2016.
I’ve charted my daily, moving weekly and monthly average happiness ratings. Just like before, I have sprinkled some comments here and there to add context to the data. This is the same data that was used to create the animation at the start of this post. This chart is pretty wide, so feel free to scroll from left to right!
Let me briefly fly you through my year in happiness.
My year 2016 had quite a rough start. I was still in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend. She had started an internship on the other side of the planet in 2015, which quickly became a period I now refer to as relationship hell. Our relationship suffered greatly from this long distance period, and it nearly ended what we had on multiple occasions. It was really hard to deal with this situation, for the both of us.
Her internship ended at the end of January, which meant the end of our long distance relationship. However, this did not mean it was a happy ever after fairy-tale ending. Not in the slightest. We had several arguments after reuniting, which only damaged our relationship further. We both had quite a tough time dealing with the challenging period we had just survived.
Our relationship fully recovered somewhere in March. Which was just in time, because we were about to enter yet another long distance relationship period! What the hell?
Luckily, this period would only last a couple of weeks. I was flying out to Costa Rica again, to work on a project (even though I missed my initial flight, which was a terrible experience….) I had worked on this project before, and it was nice to be back. Despite the challenging workload and working 7 days a week, I was able to maintain my happiness. I knew exactly what to do – and what NOT to do – in order to not burn out. It was something I had learned from tracking my happiness. This period in Costa Rica was actually really enjoyable. And my relationship did not suffer a setback. Great!
I was back in the Netherlands right on time to run my second marathon: the Rotterdam marathon. After running my first marathon in 2015, I knew I wanted to run more. Despite not reaching my sub 4 hour marathon goal, this marathon was another fantastic experience.
The next couple of months were just great. I really enjoyed my quiet and happy life in the Netherlands. I was able to spend a lot of time doing the things I love. My girlfriend and I both enjoyed spending time together, and we were happy to have survived the shitty period we entered in 2015. I also continued running a lot, in preparation for my third marathon in September.
My girlfriend really deserves more credit here. She was the biggest source of my happiness from May till the end of the year, and I loved spending every minute with her. I have analysed exactly how my girlfriend has influenced my happiness over the past couple of years. The results might inspire you!
The second half of 2016 was exceptionally great. I spent a fantastic week with my brother and father hiking through the mountains of Austria. Shortly after, I experienced my last couple of bad days of the year while being miserable at a rock festival with SHITTY weather.
The rest of 2016 was really nothing but happiness. My girlfriend and I went on a PERFECT holiday to Macedonia, which resulted in the happiest days of the year for me. Shortly after, my sister and I drove to England to participate in the Nottingham Marathon. It was another highlight of the year, because I finally beat my goal time of <4:00:00 on a marathon! It was another fantastic trip. If that wasn’t enough, my parents-in-law invited me with them on a relaxing holiday to Turkey. You can now probably understand how 2016 became the happiest year of my life! 😉
I spent the last two months of 2016 really enjoying my happy and uneventful life. Despite the fact that nothing excited happened at the time, I really enjoyed all my passions. I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to maximise my happiness!
Let’s take a look at all my happiness factors. What exactly made me happy in 2016? 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. As you might know already, I track both the positive and negative happiness factors. Happiness factors can best be explained as things or events that have an influence on my happiness on a daily basis. It’s step 2 in my method of tracking happiness. Below pie chart shows the count of positive and negative factors that affected my happiness in 2016.
I determined a total of 689 happiness factors in 2016. As you can see, the ratio between the positive and negative factors is 4,94 (573 divided by 116). I call this the happiness ratio.
It means that for every negative happiness factor, there were almost 5 positive factors influencing my happiness.
This happiness ratio was 2,75 in 2015. I think the big difference between happiness ratio already explains why 2016 was such a better year for me. I was able to do a lot more of the things I liked, and avoided negative happiness factors as much as possible!
I’m not just interested in the basic count of happiness factors, though. I want to know which factors had the most influence in 2016. As I’ve stated at the start of this article, I’m very interested in how these factors have shifted from 2015 to 2016. Let’s start by looking at the positive happiness factors.
Positive happiness factors
The chart below shows all my positive happiness factors during the year 2016. The grey bars show the same results for 2015. It’s very easy to answer a couple of my initial questions based on this chart.
There are two clear winners here: my relationship and running.
And this confirms to me that 2016 was just a fantastic year for me. At the end of 2015, I determined that I could improve my life by focusing on three aspects:
- No more long periods of work abroad
- No more long distance relationship
- Even more running!
I accomplished all three of these targets, and it apparently had a great effect on my happiness.
After our period in relationship hell, my girlfriend and I really reconnected again as 2016 went on. Except for my short period in Costa Rica, we did not face any significant time away from each other. This allowed us to spent a lot of quality time together. We went on great dates, visited a couple of fantastic countries together and had an overall blast.
Out of 366 days (2016 was a leap year), my girlfriend positively influenced my happiness on 149 days. In other words: my girlfriend positively influenced 41% of my days! I truly feel lucky to be in a relationship with her.
Running like a maniac
2016 was also a fantastic year for running. At the end of 2015, I set another three sub-targets for myself. In 2016, I wanted to:
- Finish two marathons
- Finish a marathon within 4 hours
- Run more than 1.000 kilometers in total
Well, I am thrilled to say that I accomplished all three targets.
I finished both marathons in Rotterdam and in Nottingham. I crossed the finish line in Nottingham in JUST under 4 hours. And finally, I finished the year with a total running distance of 1.496 kilometers. HELL YEAH.
Running was a fantastic source of happiness in 2016, and I definitely wanted to continue with it.
Negative happiness factors
It’s time for the negative happiness factors! The chart below shows the negative happiness factors of 2016 compared to 2015.
It was a great sign for me. My relationship only negatively influenced my happiness on 24 days (down from 41 days in 2015). My girlfriend and I really reconnected during 2016, and we were both happy with our relationship after the rough start we had.
Instead, the worst performing happiness factor of 2016 was my tiredness!
Sleep versus happiness
My tiredness negatively influenced my happiness on 50 days in 2016. Quite a lot, if you ask me.
But I am not really sure how to feel about this. Is this bad? Should I try my best to never be tired anymore? Would I have been happier if I had decided to sleep more often?
You might see where I am headed.
I want to be as happy as possible. We all do, right? Well, in order to become and stay happy, we need to be AWAKE. Our happiness doesn’t generally increase while we are asleep (there are probably some exceptions). We need to be awake in order to become happier, by doing the things we enjoy doing. Feeling well rested will only make it easier for us to enjoy the things we enjoy doing.
So there is a certain dilemma here.
You see, I have sacrificed my sleep many times in 2016. But I have always tried to do fun stuff in the extra time that I’m awake. I might watch a cool series before going to bed, or spend a nice night with my girlfriend. If the feeling of tiredness is the result of that decision, if does not necessarily mean that it was a bad decision.
The happiness I gain from doing the things that I like may outweigh the unhappiness I gain from being tired.
It’s a really fascinating dilemma, in my opinion. That’s why I have analysed the effect of sleep on my happiness in an in-depth study.
I don’t mind feeling tired every once in a while, as long as I get to spend my extra time doing things I enjoy!
And that brings me to the last part of this yearly round-up.
How can I make 2017 an even happier year?
2016 was such a great year for me. By tracking my happiness, I know exactly what caused this to be such a good year. This allows me to also better plan 2017. What can I do to make 2017 an ever happier year?
I’ve come to the following targets:
1. Continue spending quality time with my girlfriend
Seeing the positive effect of my relationship on my happiness, I wanted this trend to continue! No more long distance relationships, and no more big arguments!
We both wanted to make sure we’d spend as much quality time together as possible. This would include great holiday plans together, but also weekends and day trips, and frequent date nights. We wanted to grow our relationship into something even better. 🙂
2. Run even more?
2016 was already a great running year for me. I ran a shitload of kilometers, and managed to hit all my targets. So I asked myself: why not aim for more? How much happiness can I gain from running? When will I hit my limit, if there even is one?
So in 2017, I wanted to run 1.500 kilometers, finish 2 marathons under 4 hours, and finally I wanted to finish a 5K race under 20 minutes.
These were obviously pretty sharp targets, but I was going to give it my best anyway. Running had always been a great happiness factor for me, so I only wanted to become better at it. At the end of 2016, I had already signed up for my fourth marathon in Paris. I was dedicated to reaching my goals!
You have to stick around my Personal Happiness section in order to find out how I did with these goals. More on that later! 😉
If you are interested in reading more about my specific monthly happiness, I suggest you continue reading my monthly happiness reports! These also include excerpts from my happiness tracking journal, so you can see exactly how I was tracking my happiness at the time.
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I hope you enjoyed this Yearly Happiness Statistics post as much as I did. These yearly round-ups allow me to see exactly what I should focus on in my life.
As always, if you have any questions whatsoever, please leave a comment below! I’ll gladly answer any questions you might have!
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.