Track Your Happiness is a project begun as part of Matt Killingsworth’s doctoral research at Harvard University. He’s working in Daniel Gilbert’s lab… Daniel Gilbert is famous for his book Stumbling Towards Happiness and his work on positive psychology, or the study of happiness.
Basically, Track Your Happiness works by text messaging you 3-5 times a day at random times and asking you a series of questions. Things like, “How happy are you right now?”, “Do you want to do what you’re doing?”, “Do you have to do what you’re doing?”, “Where are you?”, “Are you alone?”, “Are you talking or interacting with anyone?” etc. Some of the questions are smart too. If you say you’re interacting with someone, it’ll ask you how many people you’re interacting with.
The questionnaires are formatted for use on an iPhone, and you are asked to fill out the survey as soon as possible when you get the text message. An interesting secondary metric that they keep track of is how often you fill out the survey (my current response rate is a pretty sad 54%), and how long it takes you to respond to the survey (my median response time is 20 minutes). By showing me these statistics, I feel competitive in a weird way to try and get the best score possible (with, as you can see, only mild success).
The real payoff of the project is getting results back from the survey. Here’s my current report:
Some of the graphs show correlations, and others don’t. Both results are interesting to me… knowing that my sleep quality so far doesn’t seem to be very correlated to my happiness, for example, is surprising. On the other hand, feeling productive and focused seems to be much more directly correlated to my feelings of happiness. Also, I seem to be happiest when I’m somewhere other than home or at work, which is surprising. And, the optimal number of people to interact with seems to be 2.
The project is set up to give “conclusive” results after 50 samples. I’ve currently 48% done, having submitted 24 surveys.
I think this project is both insightful and flexible enough to grow and adapt over time. I’m definitely going to complete the 50 surveys and see if anything further emerges from the data. And then what? What will I learn about myself and what will I do with that new knowledge?