The very first personal value I came up with when I tried to list the ten values that I wanted to live by was happiness. It’s the first of my values for good reason, happiness is everything. If you’re not happy, what’s the point? You could have everything except happiness and you’d know it. So where better to start?
Measurement and Analysis
How can you tell if you’re happy? How happy do you need to be to consider yourself happy? Is it anything past five out of ten on the happiness scale?
Quantifying happiness seems like bottling the sun, so I decided to do a little research.
The first thing I found was that happiness was not easy to condense into something easily trackable. For example, Buster Benson suggests wording your goals in ways that can be judged as true or false. So “be happier” and “be more positive” aren’t nearly as good as “smile ten times a day” or “tell one joke a day”.
In another post, Buster suggests assigning numbers to days to judge something subjective:
1 = exceptionally bad day
3 = exceptionally good day
2 = all other days
That seems useful, but the key lesson for me was that tracking happiness cannot be perfect. I can let that go. I don’t think I can boil down my happiness to objective goals, so I’m going to use the numbers approach. I’m going to use Buster’s scale of 1-3 to keep things simple.
From now on, as I go to sleep, I’ll assign the day that’s just ended a number as follows:
1 = Sad day
2 = OK day
3= Happy day
I expect most days to be either a 2 or a 3, but I’ll see how it goes.
Getting a Baseline Measurement
If I value happiness, then it follows that I should work hard to be happier tomorrow than I am today.
How am I feeling right now? Generally, I am happy. I have a good life, an amazing wife and a perfect daughter. I have friends and good family. Yet, there can be a nagging in my head that stops me from jumping around and enjoying all of this as much as I should. Sometimes it’s because we can’t always afford to do the things we want to, other times it’s because I feel I’m missing something. Most worryingly for me, sometimes I just can’t enjoy things. There might be happiness all around me, but I either can’t join in or (worse) try to pop it.
If there’s one thing I’d like to get out of focusing more on happiness it would be to stop poping fun bubbles. I’d like to embrace happiness again. I used to, so I know that I’m capable of it. I’ve just drifted a long way from the last time I was carefree and immersed in happiness. I want that back, so I can be the better husband, father and friend that the people around me need.
What Makes Me Happy?
Now that I’ve got a baseline, I need to work out what positive steps I am going to take to improve my happiness levels.
For me, signs of happiness are:
- Optimism and positivity
- Lack of complaining/criticising
- Helping others be happy
- Proactively appreciate others
And, things that I know make me happy are:
- Playing with Vani
- Spending time with Nina
- Watching films
- Tidying and organising things
Things that I suspect might make me happy:
- Trying new things
- Meeting up with friends more often
- Celebrating achievements
- Doing some social good
- Helping other people
It makes sense that to be happy, I need to do the things that I think make me happy. And, I need to do them regularly. That should help me hit the four signs of happiness, which are external rather than internal measures. That’s a better way of thinking about happiness, because saying that I read a book every day isn’t the same as saying I am happy. Saying that I have become better at being optimistic or that I complain less are, to me, much closer to true measurements of happiness.
What makes you happy?
Today’s featured image is by Vinoth Chandar