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It’s mid-month and that means it’s time to evaluate, and “scientifically” track, our happiness levels!
Reminder: According to my philosophy, I think life is about balance in 3 areas: Relationships, Personal Growth, and Freedom. These areas, for me, all need attention. Additionally, I’ve added the category Health because if you’re not healthy physically and non-physically (mentally, spiritually, etc), it’s hard to be happy.
If you would ask me if I’m happier right now than I was in mid-February, I’d say yep, slightly. I was happy then and a little more happy now. Gut reaction. And it turns out my self-polling data bears that out. Before I get to the data, it’s worth asking whether or not this is even a valid exercise. I mean, can we trust our own perceptions of happiness?
As it turns out, YES WE CAN.
In Stumbling on Happiness, a book we are going to review later this month, author Dan Gilbert talks about measuring happiness. He contends that self-claims are not only the best way to measure happiness, they are the only way to measure happiness. We can’t get into another person’s head aside from what that person tells us.
Even brain waves, which are literally inside a person’s head, are simply echoes of self-claims, because the only reason we know a certain brain wave = happiness is because the person with the brain claimed to be happy while the wave was active.
Ergo, here are my own completely valid measurements:
An increase of 0.0125! Can’t really make smileys to reflect that slight difference.
I think 4 is my baseline, so this is good. Here are some highlights from each category …
- Family. Steady at 4.5. The kids have been challenging, but that’s nothing new — they are 5-year old boy noisy tornadoes. But, they are playing together outside a lot, which I love to see. And, I’ve had fun lunches with Mrs. Rich.
- Friends. Down from 5 to 4 because last month my best friend was visiting. Can’t top that.
- Work. When we move back to the States, I’ll be transitioning to a new position in my company. While there’s still uncertainty about what that will look like, I’m feeling more content about my upcoming opportunities.
- Hobbies. The blog! A few months ago I was in search of a hobby, and writing for the blog was just what the happiness doctor ordered. Actually now I find I don’t have enough time for my hobbies. All good.
- Experiences. We continue to take advantage of living overseas. One of our favorite activities is exploring all the beaches in the area.
- Recreation. Fun meals out with the kids, with Mrs. Rich, and even a lunch by myself.
- Physical. The laggard! My workouts have been lame, and we still can’t get through a month without sick days for the kids. On top of that, the boys have been waking up at 5am almost every day which is making me tired. Mustard Seed Money had a great article recently on why we need sleep!
On the bright side, I now have a brand new tooth crown made of Zirconium, so I should be done with the dentist for a while.
- Non-physical. My mental and spiritual health feel strong, although Penny you may disagree :). We have a big trip coming up, and it helps to have something to look forward to.
When I look over these categories, it strikes me that daily life is the combination of a lot of little, often mundane moments. But if we understand why we’ve structured our lives the way we have, we can appreciate how we’re living.
Finally, I want to mention what’s not on this list: material things. Mrs. Rich and I recently watched a documentary called Minimalism, and it was all about people getting out of the rat race and not buying so many things and all that. It was entertaining and thought provoking, and made us consider where we are on the scale of minimalism.
I wouldn’t call us minimalists, but we’re not materialists either. I’m certainly not a Selfish Materialistic Hedonist! Maybe because I studied Theology, I’ve long been aware of the pitfalls of materialism. Now I’m starting to get the sense that “minimalism” is becoming … trendy. I mean, do you know a lot of people who still think more stuff will make them happy?
What about you Penny — how are those bangs working out, and how was your 40th birthday?