Soft Science

One of my twittery friends turned me onto Track Your Happiness, a research project that aims to gather data on what, exactly, governs happiness.  After signing up, the website emails or text messages you a link to a survey three times a day.  The survey wants to know how you feel Right Then!  What are you doing?  Have you eaten/exercised/slept?  And etc.

I have some criticisms of the project – it targets iPhone users, as we happen to be attached to our devices and able to answer the surveys right away, yielding more applicable results.  This also means that the population they are gathering data about is not a representative sample – we are generally affluent, for instance.  Thus, the conclusions drawn from the data really only apply to um… iPhone users.  I’ll stop before my scientist brain gets too into this, but you get the idea.

Despite my criticisms, I have found the project to be very useful for me personally.  In answering the surveys and looking at the little bits of results they give me about my individual habits and happiness, I have realized some things:

1.  I am, by far, consistently happiest when I am busy and working towards a goal.  The only thing that so far compares to that level of joy is seeing an old, dear friend.

2. I am much less happy on the days when I procrastinate.

3.  Watching TV does nothing for me. Possibly because it makes me feel neither busy nor goal-oriented.

4.  I often sleep too much (9+ hours a night).  I know, that’s sort of criminal.

Some of those things sound obvious, but it’s cool to see them on a graph with semi-quantitative data about me.  Since I have started participating in this, I have been more goal-oriented about my work, and also about working out.  I have also been making an effort to consistently get 8 hours of good sleep, no more and no less.  And to not watch TV unless it’s a program I really enjoy (like the Daily Show, but not the Colbert Report) or something that I do while interacting with other people (like making fun of legitimately enjoying ABC Family shows with Fiance).

I still haven’t learned how to stop procrastinating, but I guess being aware of the consequences on my psyche is a good first step…

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