Monday, January 23, 2012

Revelations about happiness, pt. 2

I'm almost halfway through the Track Your Happiness study. The process continues to provide one revelation after another. I am a devoted naval gazer, and still, every day my eyes are opened to patterns and habits I had no idea existed.

My participation involves keeping an eye on the iphone (never a problem for me). Three times a day, at random, a text arrives with a link to a short survey. The questions are simple, but provocative. Almost always the first question is a slider from "very bad" to "very good." The question is, "How good do you feel right now?" It's a vague question, oh yeah. I have to stop, scan my body, mind and heart, I have to ask myself how good I feel at that second. When I meditate and pray in the morning, I do this sort of scan, after which I forget to check in with myself for the rest of the day. It is so interesting.

One of things I've learned is that I'm happier indoors than outdoors. This may be true only because we're in the middle of a dark, cold, gray winter weather pattern. But I would never have guessed that since I value spending time outside so deeply. Values and reality can clash. Wow.

Part of what the researchers are trying to correlate is the relationship between happiness and what is now called "flow" - the state of being fully present, focused and in the moment. The survey asks how focused I was on whatever I was doing just before the text arrived. If I'm not fully focused (most of the time), the survey will ask if my extraneous thoughts had to do with judgments about myself. The possible answers include "no," "yes, positively," "yes, neutrally," and "yes, negatively."

I am such a self-scolder! Almost always I must answer that I'm negatively judging myself. Even when I'm doing something very positive, productive or fun, I'm simultaneously waving a finger at myself because it's not good enough or I should be doing something else. Good lord.

It's a very low level sort of thing, which must account for why I have not noticed this before. Ten years on the couch in therapy helped me turn down the volume, but it's still there, ongoing at all times. Dear friends mention often that my self esteem is not up to snuff, but I haven't listened to them because I'm mostly happy, especially compared to when I was younger. I see now that I must unhinge this thought pattern, because life is short! What am I waiting for?

Who knows what else I'll discover?

Here's the link to the Track Your Happiness site. It only works on iphones. If you don't have an iphone, for heaven's sake, get one. It opens doors and windows to experiences you can't get any other way. Here's a link to my original post about the study.

Have a happy day! Shalom.


jeanette from everton terrace said...

Very surprised to hear you are happier indoors than out. I suspect that might be true for me as well but my first instinct would be to say outdoors - of course our weather is glorious right now and we have a new puppy to play with in the back yard :)

Suse said...

Thank you for this. Sometimes when I read your posts, I feel like I am holding a mirror. Great pictures, too.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Suse!

Jeanette' - do you have an iPhone?

Steve Reed said...

I think a little bit of self scolding can be motivating. As in most things, it's all about degree. So interesting to hear about your participation in this study!