For the last week, I have been meticulously tracking four aspects of my life in an effort to quantify my general well-being and what these habits may have had to do with my overall happiness.
You can see in the image below the four variables I was keeping track of: hugs, times I spontaneously broke out into song (as you’ll see in the results, it happens pretty often!), awkward moments, and of course, whether or not the day was good or not.
Allow me to define the terms a little more precisely:
- Hugs: This one is pretty straight-forward, how many times I ended up hugging someone. I tried not to go out of my way to hug people if I normally wouldn’t, so to not affect the results, and I had to remember that physical contact like hugging isn’t as common here in the U.S. as it is where in the Colombia and Venezuela, which furthered my restraint.
- Times I Spontaneously Sing: I don’t know what to tell you, I happens a lot. Whether its the tunes from songfest, or the baritone solo from the Requiem, or even me just saying my frustrations with a tune, singing seems to come to me very often.
- Awkward Moments: Basically my second nature, I figured I should find out how many times a day I just walk away with a feeling of dread and despair. Fun example: I say hi to a classmate who I see at the cafeteria, he says hi back. We stop walking, expecting the other to add something. Silence. More silence. I say, “…okay, then.” He says, “Yup, that’s it.” And we go our separate ways. These things just seem to pop up around me all the time.
- Good days: I’ll get more into this later, but this is basically a value judgement I made at the end of each day to decide if the day was more overall good or overall bad.
The reason I chose these variables was because I felt they either happened very often (such as singing and awkward moments) or too scarcely (such as hugs), and I wanted to figure out how they affected my happiness. Below, you can see my results over eight days (each variable’s color corresponds to that of the image above):
The first thing I notices was how on day five my singing went way down, and stayed down for the rest of the study. This was most likely due to the fact that I was feeling sick these days, and my throat wasn’t really up to much (though as you can clearly see, I made do as best I could). Awkward moments came and went, seeming unaffected by my singing and hugging for the most part, which was a surprising discovery. I’d think that physical contact and singing at random intervals would increase my likelihood for awkward situations, yet it seems that those find their way to me on their own.
Hugs were unfortunately absent for a great deal of this study, increasing as the weekend approached and I met with my family, whom I was more comfortable in embracing.
Something you may have noticed is the fact that all the days in the study are marked as good days, which may seem surprising. The truth is, I wish I had decided on the day’s quality from a measure from 1 to 5, which would have given my more precise results about my variables effect on my day’s quality, however I only kept a yes or no check box for each day.
You see, it takes a colossally terrible day for me to consider a day “bad”. Even if it wasn’t an amazing day, at night I will always reason with myself and find all the good things that happened, eventually coming to the conclusion that the day was, in fact, good. Perhaps it’s an exercise in gratitude, perhaps it’s more optimism or a refusal to admit that I lost a day. I just find it very hard to look at a day overall and find more bad in it than I can good. Not to mention depressing. This is not to say that if I did this every night for a year that every day would be good, I am human, some days no matter how much I reason just have to be pinned kind of awful, which is not to say that there weren’t good moments, only that the overall feeling I have from the day is negative.
Due to the fact that some days can still be considered good day while not being excellent days, I wish I had given it a less binary evaluation to help me see the results of my study a little more clearly. One way or another, I think I learned a little about how I evaluate, not to mention the things that I do every day, often without noticing. It helped me feel more self-aware of what I do, how I think, and in understanding myself a little better from an almost outside perspective, being aware of the actions that others may know I do even when I don’t process that I’m doing them. All that is to say that I think I know myself a little better now, and I can use this knowledge to steer myself towards happiness.