Thursday, August 29, 2013

Harvard Business Review: Want to Know What Really Makes You Happy? Try Tracking It

Moodscope: with a little help from your friends
Moodscope: with a little help from your friends (Photo credit: otir_im)
First of all, I want to thank Dawn for linking me to this article. (Dawn, if there's a better link I should use for you, let me know!)

In July of this year, H. James Wilson wrote an article about mood tracking for the Harvard Business Review.

So, I'm not sure I completely understand all the science behind this article, but I am familiar with the concept of mood tracking: I've been using Moodscope, a very basic program, on and off for a while now, but since I don't do it at the same time each day, and I don't typically make notes (and I haven't yet bought a paid membership), I don't know if it's doing as much good as I'd like.

Since I don't trust myself to explain the science as presented, I'm going to browse the recommended programs instead.

Quantifying reflection: 

No links to tools for this one, just the story of how one man simply rated each day on a scale of 1-10, and made some basic notes. I think this would take energy I don't have at the end of each day -- I want to either read or sleep, not think about whether or not I was sufficiently happy and why or why not.  Also, the example's baseline was 7... which I somehow think most people's would be, though I can't quite put my finger on why.

Theory testing:

This example used the app rTracker to not only rate happiness three times a day, but also to rate satisfaction on six different scales: self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose, mastery, autonomy, and positive relations with others. These were based on some broad criteria, and the test suggested that not every factor is important for every person.  I kind of like this one.

Experience sampling:

This one prompts users at random intervals to note how they're feeling, what they're doing, and what they're thinking about. That way, it doesn't just track moods, but what activities and mindsets affect moods. The example app used in this case is Track Your Happiness, which looks really promising.  I might check it out. It's officially for iPhones, but the FAQ say you can use any internet device.

So, do you track your mood?  What do you use?  How's it working for you? If not, check out this article and let me know what you think!
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