Happiness….according to Harvard’s doctorate student, Matt Killingsworth, people are in a better mood, are “happier” if they stay in the moment and are not distracted by a wandering mind. This is based on Killingsworth’s research which he is conducting through the “Happiness Tracker”, a system of data collection through the iPhone. Currently the participants are limited to iPhone users.
I recently signed up to participate in the experiment through the study’s Web site. You fill out a simple application on-line and then you are in the system.
It’s not an app, per se, what Happiness Tracker does is send you prompts at various times of the day to ascertain your behavior patterns, how you are feeling, what you are doing, and whether or not you take any enjoyment from what you are doing. According to the website, it takes about fifty samplings from you before it starts spewing out data as to your patterns and its assumptions.
At first, I signed up for 8 samplings a day and I found it annoying — because I got a prompt/interruption 8 times a day. I re-jiggered that sampling down to 5 (through the website) and that’s better for me. But you can raise or lower those samplings per your individual preference.
The reason I am staying with the experiment and not opting out is because I find the data that it is already giving me to be interesting ( I won’t go so far as to say valuable yet ) . The data has opened a lens on my life.
For instance, based on information generated , it has madassumptions that I tend to be more satisfied or happy when I spend a decent amount of time outdoors . Also I tend to be happier if I have had a few meaningful conversations with one or two other people in the course of the day. That may not sound earth-shattering to you, but it has made me aware of some very simple behavior patters that I can modify to generally improve my mood. I have made the modifications and I notice a difference.Now happiness may not be the ultimate pursuit in life, but being happy certainly helps the medicine go down a lot easier.
For anyone with an iPhone, you might want to try it by going through the study’s Web site. It’s free and it’s kunduh’ fun. and it helps build up the overall global data that Matt Killingsworth is collecting …so not a bad cause…it almost makes you happy.