Track your happiness.

April 6th, 2012

Do you ever ask yourself “What am I going to do with my mind today?” Well, if you can direct your thoughts, stay focused on whatever it is you’re doing, be conscious of your life experience moment to moment, and be present in your now, researchers conclude you’ll be a happy person. And if you have an iPhone, you can participate in an ongoing research project that tests those ideas while tracking short-term fluctuations in your happiness.

In a matter of minutes, you can sign up to join me and the more than 15,000 other people in 83 countries to report emotional states in real time. The experience-sampling app Track Your Happiness was built by Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard University. Since 2009 he and his collaborator, Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, have collected more than half a million data points, making this the first-ever large-scale study of happiness in daily life.

The study has found that no matter what people are doing, they are much less happy when their minds are wandering than when their minds are focused. And a major finding concludes that people’s minds wander almost 50% of the time, including time spent on the job. In future research Killingsworth plans to use this tracking technology in the workplace to find out what actually makes us happy at work. Early indicators are that happiness is not as dependent on a big salary or high-powered title as it is the moment-to-moment emotions of our experience.

So in this moment, I wish you a happy holiday weekend filled with as many focused, feel-good moments as you can muster.



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